Judge A.J. Mahlangu of the North West High Court yesterday granted leave to appeal after she found on 19 May 2021 that Joseph Mogale, the Municipal Manager of the Kgetlengriver Local Municipality, was not guilty of contempt of court. This follows after Mogale apparently made no attempt to repair the water and sewage works in Koster and failed to adhere to certain provisions of a court order. A full bench of judges in the high court in Mahikeng will now reconsider her ruling.
This follows after AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit on behalf of the action group Kgetlengriver Concerned Citizens (KCC) compiled court papers to apply for leave to appeal and also argued the case in the high court. Judge Mahlangu also in May 2021 ruled that the KCC had to return the water and sewage plants to the municipality. AfriForum also supported the KCC in this case. She decided to hear the application for leave to appeal on the court papers and it was therefore not necessary for the parties to argue.
Adv. Gerrie Nel, adv. Phyllis Vorster, Wico Swanepoel of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit act on behalf of the KCC. The Unit instituted court proceedings in March 2021 to give 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.
“We welcome the fact that the judge granted leave to appeal as we are of the opinion that there is a solid case against the municipal manager. We cannot allow government officials to simply get away with disregarding court orders. We will therefore also support KCC in the appeal to ensure that justice and the rule of law prevails, because we are confident that the respondent did make himself guilty of contempt of court,” says Wico Swanepoel, prosecutor at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.
According to Johan Kruger, Head of Community Development at AfriForum, this development is positive, especially as it is usual that orders are suspended pending an appeal until a judgement in the appeal case has been made. “This could mean that Pionier and the KCC will once again regain control of the water and sewage plants and will be able to adequately manage these services.”