You and Your Rights: Free Basic Municipal Services

Summary

  • Indigent policy defines indigence as the state of being unable to afford basic goods or services such as housing, water, food, clothing, and basic sanitation.
  • A child headed household is automatically classified as indigent
  • Beneficiaries of social assistance grants are considered potentially indigent, but must still must be tested for eligibility in order to receive free basic services
  • If your right to basic sanitation is violated, you may complain directly to your ward councilor or municipality
  •  To access free basic services you must be a South African citizen or have refugee status, and you must be a resident of the municipality where indigent support is sought

Your Rights

WHAT IS AN INDIGENT POLICY?

 

Due to the level of unemployment and poverty within municipal areas, there are both households and citizens who are unable to access or pay for basic services; this grouping is referred to as the “indigent”.

 

A municipality therefore needs to develop and adopt an indigent policy to ensure that the indigent can have access to the package of services included in the FBS programme.

 

WHO IS AN INDIGENT?

 

The term ‘indigent’ means ‘lacking the necessities of life’. The following goods and services are considered as necessities for an indigent or an impoverished person or persons to survive:

  • Sufficient water
  • Basic sanitation
  • Refuse removal in denser settlements
  • Basic energy
  • Health care
  • Housing
  • Food and clothing

Any person or household who does not have access to these goods and services is considered indigent. 

 

WHO IS ENTITLED TO ACCESS FREE BASIC SERVICES? 

  • YOU must be a South African citizen with a valid RSA IDENTITY DOCUMENT or any other acceptable form of identification.
  • If YOU are not a South African citizen, YOU must have recognized REFUGEE STATUS and valid proof must be provided.
  • YOU must be RESIDING in an INFORMAL TOWNSHIP or a HOUSE.
  • If YOU reside in an informal settlement, YOU should qualify for Free Basic Services.
  • YOU must prove that YOU cannot afford to pay for piped water, sanitation, electricity, refuse removal and property rates.
  • If YOU are unemployed and not receiving any form of income, YOU will be required to provide a UIF card (UI-19), Certificate of Employment, letter from your last employer, and bank statement.
  • If YOU are receiving a monthly social assistance grant (i.e. Old Age Pension, Disability Grant, Foster Care Grant, Child Support Grant, etc), YOU will be required to provide a letter from SASSA.
  • If YOU are living in a child headed household (i.e. where both biological parents died), YOU should be regarded as indigent.
  • If YOU live in a household without any access to Free Basic Services, YOU and all others in the household should be regarded as indigent. 

Beneficiaries of State social assistance grants should be viewed as potential indigents but their eligibility must be tested. The above criteria are not prescriptive to municipalities. Municipalities must use their own good judgment and work within these criteria.

 

WHAT SERVICE LEVELS ARE YOU ENTITLED TO?

 

For Free Basic Water:

 

YOU are entitled to 6 000 litres per household of 8 people per month provided through: 

  • Communal standpipes
  • Basic systems (i.e. hand pumps, boreholes, etc)
  • Low pressure trickle feed yard tank
  • Low pressure manually operated yard tank
  • Low pressure regulated yard tank
  • Medium pressure manually operated roof tank
  • Medium pressure regulated roof tank
  • Full pressure conventional house connection
  • Full pressure pre-paid house connection

Free Basic Energy or Electricity:

 

YOU are entitled to 50 kWh per month.

 

If there is no electrification infrastructure in your settlement or township, YOU can approach the responsible Ward Councillor, Community Development Worker (CDW) or political party to complain. YOU can also complain directly to your municipality.

 

Free Basic Sanitation:

 

YOU have a constitutional right to be provided with basic sanitation services such as Ventilated Improved Pit Toilet, Ventilated Improved Double Pit Toilet and Urine Diversion Toilet or any other acceptable sanitation system that complies with international standards.

 

If YOU don’t have any access to free basic sanitation services in your community, it therefore means that the responsible municipality is violating your basic constitutional rights to: 

  • Human dignity
  • An environment that is not harmful to your health or well-being
  • Access water, etc.

WHERE CAN YOU & YOUR COMMUNITY COMPLAIN?

  • YOUR Ward Councillor or directly at the municipality;
  • YOU can report to the Ward Committee (WC) and Community Development Workers (CDWs);
  • YOU and the community can write to the SA Human Rights Commission or Public Protector;
  • YOU and the community can report to your Member of Parliament for your municipal district;
  • YOU can approach the local media in your town or city to highlight the non-availability of sanitation services;
  • YOU can approach the community advice office (if available) in your community.

DIFFERENT CONDITIONS FOR ACCESSING FREE BASIC SERVICES FOR PEOPLE OR HOUSEHOLDS CONSIDERED INDIGENT 

  • YOU must be a registered account holder;
  • YOU must apply in person and must reside on the property in respect of which indigent support is sought;
  • YOU must not own more than one fixed property within or outside your municipal area (This includes ownership of a Title Deed, Deed of Sale of ownership and occupation);
  • YOU may be disqualified as a result of fraud or non-disclosure of information and as account holder, YOU may be prosecuted;
  • If YOUR financial position has changed or if you are not meeting the qualifying criteria, the municipality may reconsider the status of the household as a poor household;
  • Certain municipalities exclude the payment of child social grants from determining household income.