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Court ruling boosts Eskom power cut plan to collect fees

May 25 2017 20:29
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Eskom said it feels vindicated after Pretoria High Court Judge John Murphy dismissed applications by AfriForum and other businesses over the power utility’s scheduled electricity interruption.

AfriForum, together with Astral Operations, Bridgestone SA and Mediclinic Brits wanted to prevent Eskom from cutting power in Madibeng, Lekwa and Kamiesberg as a way to collect arrear debts.

The first time Eskom won: Eskom can turn off the lights, court rules

However, the judgement confirmed Eskom’s constitutional right and commended it for being able to enter into 23 payment arrangements, Eskom’s head of legal Suzanne Daniels told Fin24 on Thursday.

“It confirms Eskom’s right to give effect to these electricity interruptions,” she said. “The processes we follow are sound as to how we get to the decision to interrupt electricity supply, so it can continue to do that.

“It is not affecting people’s constitutional right and is doing it with due thought and care,” she said.

“The judge commended us. During the period we collected R978m and entered into 23 payment arrangements – so it was the responsible thing to do,” she said.

“It doesn’t take away any individual or organisation’s right to challenge Eskom, but it does show that we take due diligence when taking these actions.”

READ: Eskom threat of power cuts works as 5 municipalities pay

She said Eskom has a formal process where it talks to municipalities “to ensure we can have a payment arrangement that it is beneficial to both parties and which is sustainable”.

The applicants’ contention, heard on 2 and 3 May 2017, was that Eskom’s conduct, in all the cases, is unconstitutional, unlawful and unreasonable and should accordingly be reviewed and set aside.

“In granting the judgment in favour of Eskom, the court confirmed that any exercise by Eskom of the power in section 21(5) of ERA will be administrative action reviewable by the court on the ground of legality, reasonableness and procedural fairness under section 33 of the Constitution and the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA),” Daniels said in an earlier statement.

“This victory is a critical step in the sustainability of Eskom given the levels of indebtedness within the municipal sphere. As a key enabler of the economy, Eskom’s sustainability is vital for the development of our nation,” Daniels said.

READ: Eskom holds power cut threat over municipality

afriforum  |  eskom  |  energy  |  blackouts  |  court


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