October 22, 2008: CALS Wins Third Place in International Business Ethics Network Awards

The Wits Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) has won third prize in a global award offered by the US-based Business Ethics Network (BEN), for the Phiri water rights campaign. BEN attempts to promote responsible corporate behaviour internationally.


The Phiri water rights campaign comprises a four-year legal battle against Johannesburg Water (Pty) Ltd (the City of Johannesburg’s water services provider), against the installation of pre-payment water meters in Phiri, Soweto.


CALS represented the applicants in their struggle to secure their constitutionally-guaranteed right of access to sufficient water. The applicants won the first stage of their legal battle (Mazibuko and Others v City of Johannesburg and Others) to challenge the legality of prepayment water meters and the sufficiency of the City of Johannesburg's Free Basic Water supply for large poor households, with High Court Judge Moroa Tsoka ruling in their favour in April 2008, and ordering the supply of conventional water meters, as well as approximately double the current allocation of Free Basic Water, to the applicants and all similarly placed residents of Phiri.


The case has been viewed internationally and in South Africa as a key case on the right to water. It raises critical issues concerning the role of water as a public good, essential for human life, health and dignity.


The other BEN winners are the Clean Up Ecuador campaign in Ecuador; the national Hotel Workers Rising Campaign at the Hilton Hotel in Glendale, California and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in Massachusetts, USA.


BEN organizes the awards to celebrate the victories and achievements of corporate campaign activists. Activists who are Members of BEN nominate and vote on campaigns for both awards.

BEN, a project of Corporate Ethics International, is the largest network of non-profit, marketplace advocacy activists and organizations in the U.S. and includes activists from such notable organizations as ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Healthcare without Harm, Natural Resources Defense Council, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Rainforest Action Network, and the Teamsters.



For the Mazibuko judgment and legal documents, see