Johannesburg - The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has received 144 complaints in the past two years about problems with the quality and supply of water, the Sunday Independent reported.
"Inadequate water and sanitation facilities impact on the realisation of other rights such as education, health, work and dignity," SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena told the newspaper.
One complaint was from residents in Louis Trichardt, in Limpopo, who were without water for 27 days.
"Hospitals can't clean equipment. Hairdressers cannot wash hair; shopping centres close their toilets. Sewage is flowing constantly in the street," Soutpansberg Ratepayers' Association member Inga Gilfillan was quoted as saying.
Vhembe District Municipality manager Masala Makumule acknowledged that the old age of the water system was causing problems.
"Louis Trichardt has grown massively. Such a scheme was meant for a smaller town."
Another complaint was from Riviersonderend residents, who told the SAHRC their water was polluted.
The area's ratepayers association chairperson Clive Sandenberg said the flocculant used to settle silt in the Sonderend river contained aluminium.
"The aluminium ends up in our drinking water. Prolonged exposure, longer than a year, has been implicated in chronic neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's," he told the newspaper.
It reported that Theewaterskloof Municipality spokesman Stiffie Cronje said officials were unaware of any complaints, but would investigate.
The SAHRC is scheduled to hold a national hearing on water and sanitation this month.