APPLICATION TO STOP ESKOM CUTTING OFF POWER TO DELINQUENT MUNICIPALITIES FAILS

The High Court in Pretoria has dismissed an urgent application by civil rights organization AfriForum to stop Eskom from disconnecting electricity supply to delinquent municipalities, mainly in Free State Province.

Earlier, Eskom opposed the application and agreed to postpone until next week the electricity cuts to the affected municipalities. The national power utility’s acting chief executive officer, Matshela Koko, said he had instructed its legal team to agree on a postponement as a gesture of goodwill.

This followed Judge Hans Fabricius’ decision to allow the civil organization’s legal team to make a presentation before the court. The urgent application was immediately opposed by the power utility’s legal team.

Koko, who described AfriForum’s urgent application as another cheap political stunt by organization, said it was disappointing to hear AfriForum accusing Eskom of terminating contracts with defaulting municipalities and customers.

While still awaiting the court verdict, Koko commended Eskom’s legal team for a job well done. He said Eskom had come to court with a single mandate of opposing AfriForum’s court application and winning.

We came here to fight to win, we were not worried. The part that disappoints me is the arguments put forward by AfriForum. They come to court to put a political fight in the court. Judge Hans Fabricius was quite clear and I like his commentary that courts are not governments. And it should not happen that we bring political fights to the courts. AfriForum has a case that the African National Congress (ANC) is mismanaging the municipalities and therefore the rate-payers should not pay. They have the right to make that argument, but it should not impact our business.”

Koko also instructed his legal team to agree on a postponement of the cuts to several municipalities in the Free State after being asked to do so by Judge Fabricius.

Koko said the concession made by Eskom to postpone the cuts until next Tuesday was a sign of goodwill. I grew up in a house without electricity for years. I know what it means not to have electricity. Electricity is life. Electricity is oxygen. If I can do anything and everything to give our people a second chance so that they are able to make arrangements with us, so that we can normalise the situation, so that everybody has power, I will do it. I will use every single opportunity that is available to do I will do it. So it was a very easy concession.”

Eskom has urged the affected municipalities in Free State, North West and Northern Cape Provinces to take advantage of the concession and make arrangements for payment with the power utility. The court heard that the national electricity debt by municipalities had increased from 6.0 billion Rand to more than 10 billion Rand (about 728 million US dollars) in the past several years.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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