The power(s) that be

Several large industries in Brits had to seek an urgent court interdict this past week to prevent the electricity utility from cutting their supply.

Chaos erupted when Madibeng started to cut the electricity supply to various factories, including Bridgestone and Bosch.

The companies launched an urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria for an interim interdict after Eskom gave notice that it intended drastically reducing Madibeng’s electricity supply, starting on 18 January. The companies also gave notice that they intended launching a review application to have Eskom’s decision set aside. Bridgestone’s human resources manager, Gerrit Greyling, said in court papers Eskom’s planned interruption of the electricity supply to Madibeng would be disastrous for large-scale industrial businesses, for which a constant and uninterrupted supply of electricity was vital, as well as for the economy of Madibeng.

Last week Eskom said it was suspending planned power cuts to five defaulting municipalities after receiving payments and agreeing on payment plans with them, but the power utility warned it still planned to take action against defaulters, but that it would continue with the supply interruptions of electricity to several municipalities in the Free State, Northern Cape and North West, including, Madibeng.

In the meantime, officials from Madibeng, accompanied by mayor Jostina Mothibe, has started cutting electricity to defaulting customers in Brits and Hartbeespoort and intends to continue with this action until all the arrears accounts have been settled.

Earlier last week the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed AfriForum and AfriBusiness’ urgent interdict to stop Eskom from cutting electricity to municipalities that had outstanding bills, arguing that it was “unconstitutional” and would affect ordinary citizens and businesses alike.

One has to wonder why those who do pay their accounts diligently have to be punished for a municipality that does not implement its own credit control measures and why money that is paid to the municipality is not allocated to the correct utilities.

Machteld Minnaar

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