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Mon Aug 29 20:04:32 SAST 2016

Court grants order forcing Eskom to restore electricity to Northern Cape towns

Tmg Digital | 30 January, 2016 13:14
An electricity pylon stands beyond an Eskom sign at the entrance to the Grootvlei power station, operated by Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., in Grootvlei, South Africa.
Image by: Dean Hutton / Bloomberg

Court grants order forcing Eskom to restore electricity to Northern Cape towns

The North Gauteng High Court has granted an order forcing Eskom to restore the electricity supply to five municipalities in the Northern Cape.

The urgent application for the court order was brought on Friday by the civil rights organisation AfriForum and the civil rights watchdog AfriBusiness.

Arguments by the parties will be heard by the court next week.

Eskom announced on Friday that it was cutting off electricity supply during peak periods to the five Northern Cape municipalities‚ which include the towns of Hopetown‚ Barkly West and Stydenburg‚ because they owed it just over R133-million in arrears.

In December‚ several other Karoo towns – among them Aliwal North‚ Burgersdorp‚ Steynsburg‚ Jansenville‚ Adelaide and Bedford - were left without electricity when Eskom went ahead with the disconnection of bulk electricity supply to four municipalities‚ prompting an intervention from the Eastern Cape provincial government to suspend the outages. The affected municipalities – Gariep‚ Nxuba‚ Maletswai and Ikwezi– owe the power utility a combined R168-million.

AfriForum also asked the court for a declaratory order to prevent Eskom from cutting the electricity of any other towns where municipalities have failed to pay their outstanding accounts to Eskom.

Afribusiness warned Eskom earlier this month that it would be unlawful and unreasonable of the national electricity provider to deprive consumers of electricity because of municipalities owing it money.

“No consumer can be held accountable for the poor management of municipal finances‚ or Eskom’s recovery of outstanding debt at municipalities. Eskom is damaging its own image even further with this bullying tactic and AfriForum will not allow Government to shift its debt onto consumers‚” said Marcus Pawson‚ AfriForum’s Head of Local Government Affairs.

He added that AfriForum had supplied Eskom with alternative options on how to recover municipal debt from the state.

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