The following press release was prepared by Indigo grantee, Social Justice Coalition, about their work in South Africa:
SAHRC FINDS CITY OF CAPE TOWN’S LACK OF SANITATION PLAN UNREASONABLE AND RACIALLY DISCRIMINATORY
Recommendations a victory for residents of informal settlements!
The life of every person living in informal settlements, both in Cape Town and throughout the country, will be altered in what is a major victory in the struggle for dignity and equality by poor and working class people.
An investigation by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) finds that the City’s long-term use of temporary sanitation facilities and lack of a plan for sanitation delivery in the city, violated the rights of residents of Cape Town’s poor and working class communities. It finds that the City unfairly racially discriminated against black African people in Cape Town and instructs the City to develop a comprehensive plan for sanitation within 6 months.
The investigation resulted from a complaint by the SJC, following our social audit on ‘Mshengu’ chemical toilets – an outsourced service for which the City paid over R100 million between 2010 and 2013.
Key findings of the SAHRC’s investigation include:
Right to basic sanitation violated
The City’s programme for providing basic sanitation, including the use of temporary facilities without a broader long-term plan, is inadequate and unreasonable.
Right to equality violated
The City’s use of long-term chemical toilet contracts is racially discriminatory against black African people in the city of Cape Town.
Right to dignity violated
The City’s provision of inadequate sanitation services and lack of long-term planning for informal settlements, violates the right to dignity of informal settlement residents.
Instruction for sanitation plan a victory for informal settlement residents
The SAHRC instructs the City, through meaningful engagement, to develop a comprehensive plan for sanitation services in the city, with norms and standards that incorporate human rights principles and the social context of those affected. This must be done within 6 months. The SAHRC further instructs that the City review its sanitation programme to ensure that it complies with the Constitutional obligations of realizing the rights to sanitation, dignity, and equality. The national Department of Water and Sanitation must assist all municipalities to produce such plans.
The SAHRC’s recommendations are a victory for residents of informal settlements, both in Cape Town and across South Africa. The City, the national departments of Human Settlements and Water and Sanitation, must now act urgently to ensure that they are implemented.
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