Tuesday, January 18

Northwest residents appeal court decision returning service to municipality


The Kgentlkengrivier Concerned Citizens (KCC), which won a landmark decision in December last year when the Northwest Superior Court handed it control of the local municipality’s water and sewerage works, is returning to court in September to appeal another decision by the same court. support services to the local Kgetlengrivier municipality.

The original high court decision in December 2020 brought municipalities across the country to line up to challenge dysfunctional municipalities and regain control of services in the hands of residents. Others opted for more direct action through taxpayer boycotts.

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Northwest residents take matters into their own hands and get the blessing of the court

The Taxpayers’ Revolt

The Northwest Superior Court handed down a 90-day jail sentence to the city manager, suspended on the condition that untreated sewage spilling into the Elands and Koster rivers be cleaned up within 10 days.

That condition was avoided by the residents, rather than the municipal administrator, who was saved from jail time ordered by Judge Samkelo Gura.

The court turned over control of water and sewerage services to the KCC, which raised more than R 18 million from residents and local businesses to repair damaged infrastructure.

Carel van Heerden, head of the KCC, says that the area’s water supply was fully functional within weeks of the takeover, and that the sewerage system, with the help of local engineers and volunteers, was also restored to their ability to work.

On May 13, Acting Northwest Superior Court Judge Mahlangu ordered that the water treatment works be returned to the control of the municipality or its designated contractor, Magalies Water.

Van Heerden says this ruling is too flawed to be allowed to stand, and will be appealed to the end to the Constitutional Court if necessary.

Be without water again in a few days

“Since this last ruling, we have been forced to hand over control of the water and sewerage works to the municipality and its designated contractor, Magalies Water, and in three or four days we were back to where we were a year ago, without water in the nearby town of Koster, ”he says.

“The court ignored the evidence we provided showing that Magalies Water had abandoned the water works in [nearby] Swartruggens, who had not ordered the chemicals needed to purify the water, and that the raw sewage flowed back from the Koster sewer works to the Koster River after it took over the site as of March 18, this year ”, he adds.

An affidavit from Van Heerden in support of the appeal says that Magalies Water and the municipality “did not disclose the records of the decision supporting the legal, due and proper designation of Magalies Water.”

He goes on to claim that the local Kgetlengrivier municipality is in a desperate state of mismanagement, and the North West provincial administration did not intervene and correct the situation with the tools provided by the Constitution.

The court also erred in assuming that the local Kgetlengrivier municipality was complying with the order previously issued by Judge Gura, when evidence suggests that this was not the case.

Read: The court orders to suspend the reinstatement of the municipal administrator, the mayor must pay the costs

Eight respondents are cited in the case, including the municipal manager of Kgetlengrivier, the executive mayor of Bojanala Platinum, under which is the local municipality of Kgetlengrivier, the Magalies Water Board, the responsible provincial MECs and the Minister of Human Settlements , Water and Sanitation.

The plaintiffs are KCC and Carel van Heerden.

Moneyweb reached out to Magalies Water for comment on the claims made in the appeal documents, but had not received a response at the time of publication. The article will be updated when a reply is received.

Van Heerden says the court also erred in not ordering that the KCC and its designated contractor Pioneer be compensated for expenses incurred in rehabilitating the area’s water and sewer works.

There is also clear evidence that Magalies Water employees and the municipality had left the sites (water and sewer) since March 18.

Additionally, there is evidence that neither Magalies Water nor the other respondents had placed suitably qualified employees on site since March 18.

State respondents have yet to submit their responses to the KCC appeal.

Read: Emfuleni’s financial distress is still far from over


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