The Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality in the North West has been given 10 working days to supply potable water to Koster and Swartruggens residents.

Failure to do this, will result in the authorisation of the Kgetlengrivier Residents Association to take control of the municipal water works at the towns.

The North West High Court made the ruling on Friday.

According to the Democratic Alliance (DA), a similar order will apply if the municipality fails to take steps to prevent raw sewage from flowing into contaminating the Koster and Elands rivers. Meaning that the residents association will have the power to appoint qualified people to operate the water works at both towns. The municipality and the North West provincial government will then pay for the services rendered.

Welcoming the ruling – the DA says whether or not the judgment is overturned by a higher court, it sounds a serious warning about the constitutional implication of years of corruption and mismanagement in local government.

“We hope that it will end the silence of the minister responsible for local government, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, about the failure of ANC-controlled municipalities,” the party’s Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Cilliers Brink, says.

The Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality is one of the many North West municipalities that are under financial strain allegedly due to non-payment of services by residents. It has also been dogged by poor service delivery issues.

In June 2018, the Koster Ratepayers’ Association was granted permission to take control of the municipality’s water and refuse systems following failure to deliver the services to residents.

In February 2020, Cogta deployed a financial expert to work with the municipality in a bid to turn around its finances. It also roped in water utility, Magalies Water and the Department of Water and Sanitation as part of efforts to improve the water supply in the area.

Government has blamed ageing infrastructure, resulting in frequent breakdowns of water pipelines from Koster Dam, Witrand booster pump station and Koster water treatment works, for the water supply challenges.