Court to hear Matatiele case

2009-11-03 12:33

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court is set to hear argument on cross boundary municipality laws on Tuesday in an application brought by the residents of Matatiele, a town bordering the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

The court will be asked to consider an application that two amendment acts under which Matatiele municipality was transferred from KwaZulu-Natal province to the Eastern Cape, were unconstitutional.

The laws involved are the Constitution Thirteenth Amendment Act 2007 (Amendment Act) and the Cross Boundary Municipalities Laws Repeal and Related Matters Amendment Act 2007 (Cross-Boundary Amendment Act).

The Matatiele residents argue that they were not adequately consulted by the government, nor did they adequately participate in the process when the geographical boundaries of the provinces were determined.

The residents say the government ignored the wishes of the communities to remain in KwaZulu-Natal.

Legitimate reason

The applicants also contend that lawmakers failed to offer a legitimate reason justifying their relocation.

But the government is disputing this, saying the amendment acts were passed in accordance with the Constitution.

This case is similar to that of the town of Khutsong, near Carletonville west of Johannesburg, when residents rioted in the streets in 2006 after a decision to move the municipality from Gauteng's jurisdiction to the North West, a province perceived to have a poor service delivery track record.

Angry Khutsong residents also reverted to the courts but were eventually saved by President Jacob Zuma's new government this year which decided to move the town back under Gauteng's wings.

At the start of the proceedings on Tuesday, the three newly-appointed Constitutional Court judges, Johan Froneman, Sisi Khampepe and Mogoeng Thomas Reetsang Mogoeng, will take their oath of office.