Urgent application to protect municipal dispute process in Lichtenburg

Sakelia Ditsoblotla-03

Businesses in Lichtenburg, a local services association, and Sakeliga have brought an urgent court application against the Ditsobotla Local Municipality over illegal power cuts. 

We have asked the court to compel the municipality to cease its illegal power cuts against members of the Ditsobotla Services Association (DDV).  

Ten days ago, the municipality suddenly decided to demand up to R750,000 in municipal debt from several DDV members, despite all having lodged valid disputes with the municipality. The municipality appears to be using the power cuts or threats thereof as a collection mechanism.  

This is illegal. 

According to section 102 of the Municipal Systems Act, a municipality may not interrupt services to parties that have lodged a valid dispute until that dispute is resolved. The parties’ current disputes arose in part precisely because they had not received any bills at all for years or had received improper bills that fail to set out how amounts were calculated. 

Sakeliga's Mission: Building Scalable Solutions to State Failure

On Saturday 25 May, Sakeliga served urgent court papers on the municipality to restore power where necessary and prevent power cuts in other cases. Papers were filed on Monday 27 May, and the case is enrolled for Friday 31 May, in the North West High Court in Mahikeng. 

Sakeliga is taking these steps together with and in support of the DDV and its affected members as co-applicants. We do this as part of the larger legal strategy Sakeliga is pursuing in Ditsobotla, namely, to develop jurisprudence and support models that provide proper intervention and alternative solutions to municipal decay.  

An important aspect of this matter is to uphold businesses’ right to municipal disputes so that municipalities cannot arbitrarily continue to charge for improperly accounted services that are often not even delivered. 

The latest case does not have immediate implications for Sakeliga’s other ongoing litigation in Lichtenburg, intended to achieve improved administration of critical services for the functioning of the local economy. That case is still in process, with our legal team currently corresponding with opposing parties based on previous court orders and the mandatory reports that the North West provincial authority must deliver to Sakeliga.