The Blyvooruitzicht community continued struggle to access sufficient, clean and safe water

The High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division Pretoria recently handed down judgment in the matter of Pule Molefe and Residents of the Blyvooruitzicht Mine Village versus Merafong Local Municipality, Rand Water, and 9 Others, finding in favour of the Blyvooruitzicht community residents who sought variation of a court order originally handed down in this matter in October 2016 with respect to access to water. 

That original order safeguarded the progressive right to water for the 6 000 Blyvooruitzicht Mine Village residents. It required amendment, however, because under its terms as implemented, portions of the community were not able to access water.  Recent interference with the water supply further reduced this access for the community as a whole.

The varied order aims to ensure that all areas of the Blyvooruitzicht Mine Village receive a sufficeint piped water supply and prevents interference with this supply by either the Merafong Local Municipality or Rand Water beyond the express terms of the order. It further requires consultation by Merafong Local Municipality and Rand Water with the Village as necessary on the issue of continued access to water.

This application is the fourth brought by the Blyvooruitzicht Mine Village residents over the last two years seeking to maintain at least a limited piped water supply, to which the community has long had access; indeed, the original order in this matter noted that this community has organized its life around such a supply. The Village, which is located at the site of the now-defunct Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine, was afforded access to all basic services by the Mine throughout the course of the Mine’s life. The 2013 initiation of insolvency proceedings by the Mine, owned by DRD Gold Ltd and Village Main Reef Ltd in its final years, threatened this access, as local government has struggled to assume responsibily for this provision. No plan to ensure the community’s continued access to basic services, including water and sanitation, appears to have been put in place prior to the liquidation of the Mine.

The recent order upholding the rights of all residents of the Blyvooruitzicht Mine Village residents is another step in ensuring the protection of this access.

 “The Blyvooruitzicht Mine Village residents continue to face tremendous challenges in simply meeting basic needs in the aftermath of the liquidation of the Mine, and this is an important decision in confirming the rights of post-mining communities whose access to water has been historically dependent on private entities”, said Michael Clements, Environmental Rights Progamme Manager at Lawyers for Human Rights. “We reiterate that the Blyvooruitzicht Mine Village experience must be considered by both government and mining companies contemplating operational downscale closure, and serves as a critical warning of the widespread potential impacts of such closure on the mining communities left behind.”


For more information please contact Michael Clements, Environmental Rights Programme Manager on 011 339 1960 or Carol Mohlala, Media and Communications Manager on 079 238 9826