The Supreme Court of Appeal [began on 23 February 2009] a hearing on the constitutionality of the installation and use of prepaid water meters in Phiri, Soweto. At issue is the constitutional right of access to sufficient water.
At stake for the City of Johannesburg is “the foundation of its water policy”, which has cost the city billions to implement, and is aimed at ensuring everyone has access to some form of water supply.
At stake for the residents of Phiri is suffering from having water for only a limited time in a month.
The case is the first to deal with state obligations to provide access to sufficient water. When it was heard first in the Johannesburg High Court, Judge Moroa Tsoka asserted the “minimum core” concept (that in dealing with socioeconomic rights, government should be measured against a minimum standard of delivery), rejected previously by the Constitutional Court.
[In 2008], the Phiri residents won their case in the Johannesburg High Court. The city is now appealing to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Read more: Franny Rabkin, Business Day / allAfrica.com, 23 Feb 2009