ConCourt questions withholding of rates

2013-02-05 14:35
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court on Tuesday questioned how municipalities were supposed to provide services if residents withheld payment whenever they had a gripe.

"How could we pick and choose and municipalities still remain viable?" asked Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

Fed up with the Moqjaka Municipality in the Free State's services, Kroonstad resident Olga Rademan stopped paying the rates portion of her bill, but kept up payment on the electricity, sewerage, and water portion.

Cut off

The municipality cut off her electricity even though she was fully paid up for this aspect of her bill.

Rademan argued that the municipality had no right to do this.

In terms of the Electricity Regulation Act, municipalities were not allowed to cut the electricity supply unless a client had not paid.

"If you paid your electricity, you must receive electricity," her lawyer Dennie Du Preez argued on her behalf at the Constitutional Court.

For residents concerned about municipal financial mismanagement, there was no other course of action.

There was no law that allowed for withholding money from municipalities, but it was also wrong to cut her power off when she was paid up.

The only other option, if residents were disgruntled, was the ballot box, which was "not such a strong weapon", or intervention by national government.

In 2011, Treasury intervened in Limpopo to help rectify the province's finances.

Du Preez said if the municipality wanted its money for rates, it should sue under the common law, but it could not cut off her electricity if it was paid up.

The municipality cited the Municipal Services Act (MSA) to justify its actions.

It contended it could consolidate all amounts a resident or property owner owed into one bill, and if any aspect was outstanding, it could cut the power - regardless of what was paid up and what not.

The bylaws that the municipality used were promulgated in terms of the MSA, the court heard.

Contractual obligation

Jimmy Claasen, SC, for the municipality, said the bylaws gave the municipality the right to cut power if any aspect of the bill was unpaid.

This was part of the agreement the resident entered into with the municipality to receive services.

Disgruntled residents could get a declaration from a court, exercise their options at the ballot box, or protest.

"But they can't withhold money," he said.

Moseneke asked how a municipality's customer could be held so strictly in terms of a contract to pay for, for example, water, if they had not received it for six months.

What happened to a municipality that was in breach of its own contractual obligation to actually provide the water, he asked.

Claasen said ratepayers should make an application to the courts against the municipality, and not withhold their money.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng commented that the court's decision would have a profound effect on the approach to service provision in the country, the failure to pay for services, and protests related to service delivery.

The matter continues.

- SAPA
Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  service delivery  |  local government
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
36 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is so much going on around you and inside your head. You may want to take your ideas to the next level. Romance may be...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.