Tenants win power battle
Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court on Friday ruled that Johannesburg City Power's disconnection of electricity in a block of flats without prior notice was unlawful.
Power was cut at Ennerdale Mansions in Johannesburg Central on July 8 2008 without notifying the tenants beforehand. The tenants had paid their electricity bills to the fourth respondent, Thomas Nel, who owned and leased the flats.
The court ruled that City Power had an obligation to notify not only its "customer" but anyone else who would be affected by the disconnection.
"The applicants [tenants] were entitled to procedural fairness, there should have been a physical notice placed in the building 14 days before the disconnection," said Justice Thembile Skweyiya in delivering the ruling.
The court said the electricity provider was required to act in a manner that was responsive and fair.
The tenants were up-to-date with their electricity payments to Nel. They have been living in the building for over a year after power was cut because they could not afford to go anywhere else.
The South Gauteng High Court had ruled that City Power had no obligation to notify the tenants as the electricity provider had no contract with them.
On Friday, the Constitutional Court ruled that City Power should pay the tenants' costs of the High Court and the Constitutional Court.
It also ruled that electricity should be reconnected in the building.