Sakeliga making progress with contempt case following weeks of evasion by Mogalakwena municipal management

Sakeliga has finally succeeded in serving a court application on the acting municipal manager of the Mogalakwena Local Municipality in Limpopo, Mr Hendrick Ngoepe. He has seemingly been dodging service of Sakeliga’s court application* to have him found guilty of contempt of court.
In particular, he is never at his office, and his staff time and again tell the sheriff of the High Court that he is busy and not available. However, attorneys for Sakeliga last week managed to reach Ngoepe by telephone to inform him of the contempt application against him.

Sakeliga meanwhile has learned that a new municipal manager, Mr Morris Maluleke, was appointed on 1 September and that the acting municipal manager at whom the contempt application is aimed, is not acting any longer and is now serving in another office. The contempt application, however, does not expire because of Ngoepe’s change of office; he was the incumbent of the position of municipal manager when Sakeliga repeatedly addressed letters of demand to him and the municipality to comply with a court order of 18 January and when the subsequent contempt application was filed. Furthermore, Sakeliga has now also sent a letter of demand to Maluleke, the new municipal manager, to comply with the 18 January order, failing which contempt proceedings will be launched against him as well.

Sakeliga is aware of the dispute among councillors about who the legitimate municipal manager of the Mogalakwena Local Municipality is, and of the pending litigation in the Pretoria High Court to have Maluleke’s appointment declared null and void. There also are criminal cases with regard to corruption and money laundering pending against officials. In the midst of all this, councillors are fighting tenaciously about who should have control over the municipality’s purse. Clearly, the municipality has plunged into political and criminal chaos, while all forms of service delivery are collapsing.

In pursuing our ongoing contempt application against the municipality and Ngoepe, Sakeliga is not only obtaining important records with a view to reformative litigation, but also is making it clear that we will follow all available legal processes to restore the municipality’s accountability towards the community. The municipality is not complying even with the most basic legal requirements imposed on municipalities, and now it also is ignoring court orders. For this reason, Sakeliga is asking the court to impose imprisonment as far as the court finds it necessary in order to prevent further contempt.

Read more about Sakeliga’s contempt case here.

*The contempt application flows from a court order that Sakeliga obtained on 18 January this year to compel the municipal manager and the municipality to produce several records such as financial reports and council resolutions of the municipality. In turn, the court order was obtained because of an unanswered request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) submitted by Sakeliga to the municipality as far back as May 2021. Sakeliga submitted the request in cooperation with the Mokopane Chamber of Business. Having sent several unanswered letters of demand to the acting municipal manager to comply with the 18 January court order, Sakeliga last month brought an application for the latter to be found guilty of contempt of court and, as far as the court deems it necessary, to impose imprisonment.