The business organisation Sakeliga will be heading to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein to have the judgment which prohibits Eskom from unlawfully interrupting the electricity supply to defaulting municipalities upheld. On 7 March 2019 the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found in favour of Sakeliga, who was admitted as an amicus curiae to the proceedings initiated by Resilient Properties against Eskom, that the power utility first needs to exhaust all remedies available to it in accordance with the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act, 13 of 2005, before it interrupts power supply to a defaulting municipality.
The failure by a municipality to pay for electricity provided by Eskom, whilst the municipality’s residents have paid for such services as invoiced, amounts to an intergovernmental dispute which should be dealt with in accordance with the Act rather than Eskom arbitrarily cutting power as a debt collection measure to force municipalities to pay up. Last week an appeal was granted in favour of Resilient Properties, who want to go further and have such interruptions declared unconstitutional. Sakeliga will remain an amicus to the proceedings to ensure that the progress already made against Eskom in this matter will continue to be enforced and confirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
“We are confident that our arguments in the High Court will be confirmed on appeal by the Supreme Court of Appeal in that Eskom first needs to exhaust all remedies available to it when an intergovernmental dispute of this nature arises. It is in the interest of both justice and South Africa as a whole that clarity be given as to how Eskom can and should deal with defaulting municipalities, whilst residents of such municipalities have diligently paid their accounts for their electricity consumption. Even if Resilient Properties fails with their constitutional arguments to these questions, Sakeliga’s arguments proposing a solution within the current legislative framework should stand,” says Armand Greyling, Legal Practitioner for Sakeliga.