AfriForum and AfriBusiness urgently in court to prevent power cuts

AfriForum and AfriBusiness is approaching the High Court in Pretoria tomorrow for an urgent interdict against Eskom’s plans to cut the power supply to eight municipalities on 5 January 2017 due to the municipalities’ failure to settle their accounts with Eskom.

This follows after it came to light during the Festive Season that Eskom is planning to cut power supply to residents of various municipalities in the Northern Cape, North West and Free State because certain municipalities neglected to transfer funds that were collected from residents for electricity supply to Eskom. Billions of rands in electricity funds are owed to Eskom by municipalities.

On 22 and 23 March of this year the High Court will hear a comprehensive application from AfriForum and AfriBusiness to determine if Eskom’s practice to disadvantage residents due to the neglect of poorly managed municipalities to fulfil their obligation is unconstitutional.

AfriForum and AfriBusiness is of the opinion that Eskom, as a state-managed entity, has other legal measures at its disposal to recover its fees. To punish paying and law abiding citizens and institutions for the negligence of incompetent municipal administrations does not make sense. The approach of Eskom to threaten with the summary power cuts of full municipal areas is a draconic and unconstitutional measure which boils down to collective disadvantage of payers, as well as non-payers.

Willie Spies, legal representative of AfriForum and AfriBusiness, said in a statement that the civil rights organisations cannot allow paying service-consumers, old-age homes, hospitals, schools and emergency services being disadvantaged due to the culture of non-payment among certain residents and the mismanagement of municipalities by incompetent officials.

“Eskom previously undertook to not proceed with power cuts before the conclusion of the court application in March. The plans to now cut the power of eight municipalities is in contradiction with Eskom’s earlier undertaking; therefore, we are now approaching the court for urgent help,” says Spies.

The proceedings in the High Court in Pretoria will start at 10:00 on Tuesday, 3 January 2017.

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