Sakeliga takes Mogalakwena municipal manager to court for contempt


Sakeliga has brought a court application in the Polokwane High Court to find the acting municipal manager of the Mogalakwena Local Municipality in Limpopo guilty of contempt of court.

This application follows a court order that Sakeliga has already obtained on 18 January this year to compel the municipal manager to hand over to Sakeliga several records such as financial reports and council resolutions. The January court order followed after an unanswered request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) had been submitted by Sakeliga to the municipality as far back as May last year. Sakeliga submitted the request in cooperation with the Mokopane Chamber of Business.

The 18 January order, which was served by Sakeliga on the municipal manager through the sheriff, instructed the municipal manager to produce the records referred to in the original PAIA request, within 30 days. The municipal manager appears to have ignored the order. We are consequently asking the court now to impose imprisonment on the municipal manager should the records not be produced within a specified number of days as determined by the court.

Sakeliga’s initial request for the records on 18 May 2021 was left unanswered in spite of several reminders following the service of the PAIA request by the sheriff. The PAIA request covers a considerable number of records that can enable the community to address a complete lack of financial management by the municipality, through litigation and other actions.

After more than a year and a subsequent court order in Sakeliga’s favour, the municipality still has not produced the records.

There is no reason in sound governance why Sakeliga should compel an organ of state to respond to a court order. Given more than a year’s neglect as well as that a contempt of a court order is now required to produce simple records that should legally be in the possession of any municipality, Sakeliga can only arrive at a few possible conclusions. These include that the Mogalakwena municipality has decayed to such an extent that it does not have the ability to make available basic records, or that such records do not exist, or that the records are so incriminating that the municipality would rather withhold such records even in spite of a court order.

Should the records not exist, it would amount to confirmation of a total lack of financial management, as well as confirmation of the absence of any organised municipal management.

Sakeliga has noted a tendency in Limpopo as well as North West that municipalities simply do not have the ability and/or willingness to respond to basic information requests in terms of PAIA. For example, Sakeliga also had to launch contempt of court proceedings in November last year to compel the Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality in North West to hand over records in terms of a previous court order and request for information. As a result, the municipality did produce most of the records, while quite a number of records apparently do not exist.

It would appear that the Mogalakwena municipality in Limpopo does not have the ability to perform its basic legal duties and even abide by court orders. Such a degree of decay is hampering the administration of justice and local business security.