Johannesburg High Court Judge Steven Kuny has reserved his judgment in the Langaville flushing toilets case, a case brought against the City of Ekurhuleni by a group of shack dwellers to receive flushing toilets. The group, representing 153 households, has been using interim basic sanitation in portable chemical toilets for over a decade, despite a 2011 court order mandating the municipality to provide them with flushing toilets, as per Eyewitness News.
The group is now seeking a court declaration that the municipality is in breach of its constitutional obligations. The case was heard last Thursday, with the municipality arguing that the shack dwellers’ land is not a zone for residential use and that thousands of other informal settlements across the city and country are in the same position as this group. The municipality also stated that as a category C informal settlement, it only qualifies for interim basic sanitation.
Advocate Usha Dayanand-Jugroop, representing the municipality, argued that granting improved sanitation to this group would amount to discrimination or preferential treatment, as their circumstances are unfortunately not unique in Ekurhuleni and across South Africa. In addition, the municipality said that there is a long-term plan to provide housing and sanitation for those who qualify for it through the John Dube Mega City Development Project.
However, some shack dwellers resisted relocation, and Dayanand-Jugroop argued that the municipality could not be held hostage by this. The judge has yet to deliver his verdict, which will have far-reaching implications for the residents of Langaville and the many other informal settlements across the country facing similar challenges. The case highlights the ongoing struggle for adequate housing and sanitation in South Africa and the need for continued efforts to address this critical issue.