Representatives of the Hornlee community in Knysna say they and the town council have been summoned to appear before the South African Human Rights Commission for a hearing over the disputed installation of prepaid water meters in their area.
Community organisation Hornlee United has accused the council of being racist by installing the meters only in areas occupied by non-whites.
In a statement late on Monday, the organisation said it had taken the Knysna municipal council to the rights commission in light of its reluctance to meet residents and discuss the water meter issue.
“The community also took the Knysna municipality to the Human Rights Commission for their discriminatory practices for not giving anyone in Hornlee a house in the last 20 years in spite of most of them being on the housing waiting for 10- 25 years,” said Hornlee United.
“People in the northern areas who lived there from anything from one to 10 years have all received houses whilst many of them (are) not even qualifying according to the housing criteria.”
The Knysna council has previously said the community’s resistance to the water meters was based on factually incorrect information, insisting that the majority of the residents welcomed the installation of the gadgets.
It said the meters had the advantage of eliminating meter reading estimates, water bill surprises, and ensured better control on consumption while also promoting the responsible use of resources.
In its statement on Monday, Hornlee United said residents were being punished through the water meters because some had allegedly incurred large debts on their accounts.
“We told them (council) they should do their work in debt collection and proper billings and the community cannot be punished for their incompetence,” it said.
– African News Agency