Granny vs state: ratepayers can’t pick what they pay

2013-04-26 16:00

The Constitutional Court has denied a Kroonstad resident’s appeal to prevent the municipality from cutting off her power after she stopped paying rates in a protest against service delivery.

A resident could not pick and choose which components of their rates bill to pay, the court ruled today in a majority judgment written by Judge Raymond Zondo.

Olga Rademan, a member of the Moqhaka Ratepayers and Residents’ Association, declared a dispute with the Moqhaka municipality in June 2008.

She and other members withheld payment of their rates and taxes in protest against poor service delivery, but paid for electricity, water, and other services.

Read: Granny vs state in landmark battle

The municipality disconnected her electricity in August 2009.

Today, the court held that there was no conflict between the Electricity Regulation Act (ERA), the Municipality Systems Act, and by-laws, and that Rademan had failed to comply with the provisions of the systems act and by-laws.

After her electricity was disconnected, Rademan brought an application in the Kroonstad Magistrates’ Court, which ruled that the municipality was not entitled to disconnect her electricity.

The municipality appealed the ruling in the Bloemfontein High Court.

The municipality argued that residents had no right to pick the services for which they wanted to pay.

Rademan argued that, in terms of the ERA, the municipality was not entitled to cut electricity supply to her property.

The High Court overturned the lower court’s decision.

Rademan appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which dismissed the case and said a municipality had the option, under the systems act, of consolidating the accounts for various services.

This was intended to prevent residents from electing which municipal accounts they wished to pay.

She then took the matter to the Constitutional Court.

More on the case: ConCourt considers if taxpayers should pay for poor services ‘forever and ever’

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