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S.African court rules against open air toilets

A South African court on Friday ordered the opposition-led municipality of Cape Town to enclose open air toilets erected for residents of a slum area outside the city in 2009.

The lavatories sparked political controversy in the country’s only major metro not run by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), as residents protested over the issue.

The Western Cape High Court Judge Nathan Erasmus declared the provision of open toilets at the settlement to be a violation of the residents’ constitutional rights to dignity.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), which runs Cape Town, accepted the court judgement, but maintained that it will “extend sanitation services to every household within available budgets.”

“We also note the order to enclose the toilets. We have tried to do this on several previous occasions and each time enclosures were destroyed by the ANC Youth League. We will, however, try again,” said a statement.

DA leaders claimed that residents had agreed to build the enclosures themselves, as the council had no funds to erect them.

The case has become an issue of political point scoring, as the fight for votes hots up ahead of local government elections in May.

The youth wing of the ANC, on behalf of residents, took the Cape Town council to the Human Rights Commission over the issue, alleging that the toilets infringed on human dignity.

The Commission upheld that argument. The DA appealed the decision at the High Court, but lost its case on Friday.