The Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality in the North West is again in charge of the sewage and water plants in the towns of Koster and Swartruggens. This follows a court ruling by the North West High Court sitting in Mahikeng.

The Local Ratepayers’ Association earlier took over the running of the plants after successfully arguing in court that the municipality did not have the necessary capacity to deliver these basic services.

The Kgetlengrivier Concerned Residents went to court in 2020 requesting that they be given authority to manage the water and sewage plants.

Video: Tug of war between Kgetleng Rivier Municipality and ratepayers association far from over

At the time, both the towns of Koster and Swartruggens had serious water shortages and sewage spillages were causing a health concern.

The parties later agreed that an independent water authority should take over and Magalies water was appointed.

Water provision victory for Kgetleng Ratepayers Association in North West:

The Ratepayers Association, however, intervened again when service delivery continued to deteriorate. Now, the court ruled that the Ratepayers Association must hand back all infrastructure under its control.

Head of Community Development for Afriforum, Johan Kruger, who since joined the Ratepayers Association in court, says they will take the matter further.

“Afriforum was submitted as the friends of the court, so as such, we will probably not appeal, but we will be studying reasons for the judgment. If necessary, we will also make the necessary submission in the appeal depending on the importance of this matter; not only for Kgetlengrivier, but for the whole of the South African municipalities that are struggling and are failing left, right and centre.”

Maintaining plants

The Ratepayers Association says they do not believe that the municipality will maintain these plants accordingly.

“Hopefully, they will maintain our standard because we set the high standard there, especially in Koster and Swartruggens. Water quality is fantastic. We were trying to get blue drop status by the end of the year. I do not think the municipality will able to get that blue drop status,” says the Association’s Carel van Heerden.

The Local Government Department says it has put plans in place to assist the municipality.

MEC for the department, Mmoloki Cwaile says they have established the provincial and district streams committee.

“We have established the provincial and district streams committee and we also have all the multiple role-players including the municipal infrastructure support agency, at various municipalities. We have department of water and sanitation, and we are working and about to complete the clear turnaround on [the] provision of water and management of water and sanitation sites.”

Government indicated that Magalies Water has already started with its duties.