Sakeliga pursuing urgent litigation to prevent water cut-off in North West
27 May 2021
The business organisation Sakeliga is currently preparing an urgent court application to ensure water supply in the North West and prevent a local economic catastrophe. This comes after Sedibeng Water instructed on May 25 that water services in large parts of the North West province shall be suspended from June 1, 2021.
The looming disruption affects the entire Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality, as well as the Mahikeng, Ditsobotla, and Ratlou Local Municipalities. It involves towns such as Mahikeng, Lichtenburg, Delareyville, Ottosdal, and Zeerust.
"The state must stop shifting the burden of its internal problems to business people and the local community. Sedibeng Water is an organ of state and does not have the right to suspend services to businesses and the public at large owing to its failure to obtain proper payment from another organ of state, ”says Piet le Roux, CEO of Sakeliga.
"As has already been confirmed in a recent judgment that Sakeliga obtained, an organ of state such as Sedibeng Water may not interrupt its services to paying businesses and the community at large until it has at least complied with the legal prescriptions on intergovernmental disputes. In addition, in this case, Sedibeng Water did not even properly inform or consult local businesses and communities.”
Le Roux emphasises the damaging humanitarian and economic consequences of a sudden, unilateral disruption of water services. "All towns in North West are already suffering from severe state decay and corruption. In many cases, the cutting off of water can be the final straw, forcing businesses to leave these areas, with a spiral of deterioration certain to follow the exodus."
Sakeliga has given Sedibeng Water until 27 May 10:00 to withdraw its instructions to its employees, and to ensure continuing services. In the mean time, Sakeliga's legal team is preparing the necessary urgent application to ask the court for an appropriate interdict.
"We anticipate that the outcome of this urgent litigation will be to secure water supply at least on a temporary basis. It will be similar to the role we played in electricity-related litigation, as with the Resilient ruling in December 2020. Pending the development of a lasting solution, we want to prevent organs of state from suspending services illegally.”
Click here to view letter by Sakeliga's lawyers to Sedibeng Water.
Durable solution: Comprehensive legal strategy for local economic recovery
With a view to a lasting solution, Sakeliga has in recent months crafted a comprehensive litigation strategy to address municipal decay and initiate local economic recovery. More will be announced about this strategy later this week, with court papers currently being served on all parties.
"Sakeliga will propose a structured approach to the court, through which collapsed municipalities can be revived and local economies nationwide can be saved. Not providing for a quick fix, it will rather lay the foundation for long-term recovery. Litigation on this front will highlight the obligations and failures of National Treasury and the executive branch of government to intervene in a timely manner, and - importantly – seek to establish legal precedent that will keep fees rendered for service delivery out of the hands of corrupt, misappropriating or incompetent municipal officials.”
The incipient application will involve two municipalities in the North West, with the aim of laying a foundation in law for more approachable and affordable ways to obtain legal remedies at other municipalities with similar issues.
Issued by Piet le Roux, CEO, Sakeliga, 27 May 2021