AfriForum and members of the action group Kgetlengrivier Concerned Residents (KCR) announced at a conference today that they will be serving court papers on the Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality as well as Joseph Mogale, its municipal manager. This court action is aimed at giving effect to the court order in which the Northwest High Court in Mmabatho imposed a suspended sentence of 90 days’ imprisonment on Mogale because of his and the Municipality’s alleged contempt of the same court order.
AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, headed by Adv. Gerrie Nel, assisted the KCR in drafting the court papers and supports this organisation in the legal process.
The Court already made an interim order on 18 December 2020 that the KCR may take over certain water and sewage services in the vicinity of Koster and Swartruggens because the Municipality has been neglecting these duties for years. The interim order was finalised on 12 January 2021 by way of a settlement that was reached between the parties, which was then made an order of the Court. The KCR initially turned to the Court because water provision in these towns was either poor or non-existing, and drinking water was polluted with untreated sewage.
In its order, the Court imposed a prison sentence on the municipal manager if either he or the Municipality failed to comply with certain requirements within a certain timeframe. These include:
- The depositing of raw sewage into the Eland and Koster Rivers must be cleared up within ten business days from the date of the order, and the municipality and municipal manager must take all necessary steps to ensure that raw sewage is not deposited into the rivers or onto the land around the respective sewage plants at Koster and Swartruggens.
- The municipality must immediately cease using pipes, furrows or trenches to relay raw sewage from Koster and Swartruggens to these rivers.
- The municipal manager and Municipality must draft a report within 11 business days from the court order on the steps that they had taken to prevent the depositing of raw sewage into the rivers, and how they plan on preventing it in future.
“It seems that the Municipality, as well as its municipal manager failed to execute all these requirements. AfriForum and the KCR now want to ensure that the municipal manager’s suspended sentence is enforced. The authoritie’s seemingly continuing failure to respect the order is a threat to the rule of law and we cannot allow them to continue doing so without any consequences,” says Adv. Nel.
“The community demands the Municipality to take responsibility for the dismal state of our towns and rivers. Enforcing the suspended sentence is unfortunately the only way to ensure that this type of mismanagement stops. We have approached the Court on many occasions, because we had to make do without proper services for many years now, and because the pollution of the river and environment became intolerable. Pollution like this has far-reaching social and economic consequences for the whole region, as well as a very detrimental effect on people who live in the area. We simply can no longer allow our towns to go to ruin because of municipal mismanagement. We therefore decided to involve ourselves within the framework of the law,” says Carel van Heerden, a representative of the KCR.
AfriForum also announced the establishing of the Pionier Dienstemaatskappy at the same event.
According to Johan Kruger, head of Community Development at AfriForum, Pionier is a non-profit company that was established to promote community involvement in a unique way, in cooperation with municipalities. “The company is one of its kind in South Africa. Because of AfriForum’s work and involvement in communities from around the country, we are acutely aware of the poor quality of municipal services that our communities have to live with – especially in the country. Pionier was established to resolve this state of affairs. This can be achieved by providing municipal services yourself as municipal services deteriorate as a result of various reasons. The KCR and the communities of Koster and Swartruggens now showed other communities that municipal services can indeed be taken into the hands of communities themselves, and we hope Pionier will become the vehicle through which communities will continue to become more self-reliant.”
The main aim of the company is to develop self-management skills and infrastructure to ensure that sustainable services of high quality can be rendered in especially the following areas:
- Managing water resources and providing clean drinking water;
- Managing sewage;
- Managing refuse removal and terrains; and
- Providing electricity.
“A further important focus will be involving local businesses, specialists and people, and co-opting experts in the community to provide these services to people in a variety of ways. The eventual purpose is to establish partnerships between the public and private sector in providing quality municipal services to communities,” Kruger says.