Mediclinic Brits and others in court to isolate electricity supply from Madibeng

Advocate Deon Irish SC, acting for Mediclinic Brits told the High Court this week that his client had nothing to do with the dispute between Eskom and the Madibeng municipality about Madibeng’s failure to pay its Eskom bills. He said the risk to Mediclinic’s patients if Eskom disconnects the whole of Madibeng, outweighs the importance of Eskom’s debt collection.

Mediclinic’s application is being heard with industries in the area that together represent approximately 60% of the municipality’s electricity revenue.

The other applicants include among others, the tyre manufacturer, Bridgestone. The application is aimed at having Eskom’s decisions to disconnect electricity supply to Madibeng reviewed and set aside. In court papers they state that 2 400 jobs could be at stake if the electricity supply is interrupted.

In February Eskom agreed not to cut the supply until the review applications have been finalised.

Irish told the court that Eskom’s suggestion that Mediclinic should rely on generators is not realistic.

The hospital generators are designed as back-up, not to run the hospital on for five hours per day during Eskom’s proposed disconnection.

He said that if Eskom wanted to disconnect Madibeng, it first had to make provision for continued supply to the hospital. He argued that electricity supply to essential services like the hospital should be excluded from the disconnection.

Irish also said that electricity is needed for the provision of water and if the electricity supply is disconnected for five hours per day, the hospital’s water tanks will not fill up. He stated that consistent water supply is crucial for hygiene, infection control and food production in the hospital.

Eskom cannot embark on an action of cutting electricity supply if it cannot guarantee that Mediclinic and its patients’ constitutional right to water won’t be infringed, he said.

He argued that if Eskom’s distribution license in Madibeng restricts it from providing electricity supply directly to Mediclinic and other essential services, the license could be amended.

The case continues next week.

Daleen van Manen

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