Community Municipal News

Long walk to electricity…

Michele du Plessis

On October 6th, 2017, Thaba Chweu Municipal authorities issued a notice to residents of Sabie, that Eskom has declared their intention to interrupt the power supply to Thaba Chweu local Municipality from Monday, October 9th, 2017.  The “proposed” power outages will be as per the schedule published.

“Well, the power interruptions are here – but we’re all resilient folk, and will take it in our stride…” Captain Gwilym Rees, Chairman of the Sabie Ratepayers Association said.

On October 16th, 2017: “ESKOM DEBACLE: To all citizens of Sabie (this includes Simile and Harmony Hill), Lydenburg / Mashishing and Graskop:

The Sabie, Graskop and Lydenburg Chambers have been in combined talks with TCLM.

On May 23rd, 2018: “Eskom power cuts are pending the court hearing on 31 July 2018. The court papers were submitted quite a while ago and GR believes these can be added to, as there are further matters that are now relevant to the case. The Premier, also named as a respondent, has taken Neil Diamond out of Mbombela Municipality where he was the Municipal Manager and has tasked him with drawing up an argument to convince the courts not to reinstate power cuts. However, his arguments appear to be flawed as he claims that there is nothing wrong with TCLM and their finances,” Captain Rees wrote.

The court case continued… Then:

On Friday, March 8th, 2019: “Good morning folks. I received a copy of the Judgement last evening regarding Sabie’s Eskom case.  I am pleased to inform you that we won the case and in addition, the costs have been awarded against Eskom. Sabie has made history in South Africa,” Captain Rees said. “I am over the moon,” he stated.

In the judgement delivered on March 7th, 2019, Judge Hughes stated the following: “Summary: Review – decision by Eskom to terminate or interrupt supply of electricity – declaratory of illegality sought; certification of a class action – Administrative law – section 6 (2) (e) (iii) of PAJA – failure to pursue other remedies.

ORDER

The following order is made:

[1] The decision of Eskom to schedule interrupted electricity cuts is reviewed and set aside.

[2] The defendants are ordered to pay the costs of the applicant’s, the one paying the other to be absolved.

[3] Such cost includes the employment of two counsel where so employed.”

Further on, Judge Hughes stated that in the case “I take cognisance of the fact that I have two governmental institutions of the state [Eskom and the municipalities] working against each other, with no end in sight to settle the impasse between them.” He stated that it is well established in term of the constitutions or organs must co-operate, work in good faith and mutually trust each other, ensuring the facilitation of settling intergovernmental disputes.

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