Lichtenburg municipal crisis: government persists in failure, Sakeliga intensifies legal action


Neither the administrator of the Ditsobotla local municipality nor the North West government is apparently capable of restoring proper water supply to the towns of Lichtenburg, Coligny and others in terms of a court order that Sakeliga obtained on 13 October. Sakeliga is therefore now intensifying our legal action against the president, the North West government and the administrator of the Ditsobotla municipality.

The October 13-order is in part A of a two-legged urgent application by Sakeliga and others, in terms of which the administrator of Ditsobotla has already been ordered to immediately restore water supply to affected communities. Part B of the application, which had to be heard yesterday, then focuses on medium-term solutions, specifically interventions at the highest level of government – national government administration under section 139(7) of the Constitution – and interventions by community organisations themselves in so far as it becomes necessary.

However, when Sakeliga arrived at the North West High Court in Mmabatho yesterday for the hearing of Part B of the urgent application, Part B had to roll over because of the government’s non-compliance with the part A order of 13 October. The judge adjourned the court yesterday morning so that the government’s respective legal teams could reach consensus among themselves on how the government could explain their non-compliance with the Part A order to the court, and to seek possible agreement with Sakeliga. The government also served their answering affidavit in respect of the part B application to Sakeliga’s legal team a day before the hearing (despite the fact that the statement had already been commissioned two days before the hearing and was therefore ready for service). This means that Sakeliga did not have opportunity to peruse the affidavit or to reply to it by way of a replying affidavit.

The implications of the above developments are:

  1. Submissions on the government’s non-compliance with the Part A order of 13 October will be made before the court on Friday, 18 November with the aim of an amended part A order which strengthens Sakeliga’s already obtained remedies. Considering the government’s failure to properly restore water supply, Sakeliga will ask that community members may step in without obstruction to restore the water supply themselves, at the government’s expense
  2. The part B application for national government interventions under section 139(7) of the Constitution, as well as for appropriate community interventions in the Ditsobotla municipality will be heard on the same day
  3. Sakeliga will seek a punitive costs order against the government in respect of the wasted costs associated with the postponement of the part B application.

Sakeliga is assisted in our court application by two co-applicants, a public interest organization and a local businessman. The respondents appear on the notice of motion, which can be downloaded here.

Read more about the case here.