Poor to take on city, Eskom

2016-07-27 12:12
Eskom continues to cut the use of diesel for OCGTs, which is one of the most expensive ways to generate power.

Eskom continues to cut the use of diesel for OCGTs, which is one of the most expensive ways to generate power.

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

Pietermaritzburg - A group of poor, elderly women are taking on Msunduzi Municipality and Eskom in the Pietermaritzburg high court tomorrow, fighting for free basic electricity.

The Pietermaritzburg women, who launched the Electricity Action Group (EAG), have also added the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), minister of Energy, and director-general for the Department of Energy to their case.

EAG spokesperson Bonginkosi Sibisi said this was the first public interest case in the country to clarify the rights of citizens to access free basic electricity.

“It will test the failure of Msunduzi Municipality and Eskom to provide free basic electricity to poor families who access electricity through a prepaid meter on the basis of being discriminatory, unlawful and unconstitutional,” Sibisi said.

The EAG is represented by the Legal Resources Centre and the case brings to a close a six-year battle by the group.

Sibisi said for 13 years the municipality had a Free Basic Electricity Policy introduced to them by the national government to assist poor families to afford electricity.

He said local government was mandated to deliver on the policy and the funding was provided through the Equitable Share.

“In 2014/15 Msunduzi Municipality got R373 million from National Treasury to pay for free basic services. The municipal spend on electricity for that year was R1 776 902. Msunduzi Municipality gives 70 kWh (R96,41) of free basic electricity to a few families with a credit meter. It does not give free basic electricity to the 68 000 families with a prepaid meter,” he said, adding that those who need free basic electricity are the most excluded.

The EAG claims the municipality has “ignored” the policy and the decision has pushed tens of thousands of families deeper into debt.

“It has forced them to put their families’ lives at risk by using unsafe sources of energy to cook food, keep the lights on, and their families warm and secure,” he said.

By choosing not to follow the policy, the EAG said, the municipality has “excluded and discriminated” against poor families who were not given a choice to have a prepaid meter.

“Nobody should be denied access to services because they cannot afford to pay for them. Nobody should be forced to choose between which basic need must be cut to make sure they have another basic need. Our dignity cannot be reduced to money,” Sibisi said.

The matter is set down for tomorrow at the high court.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  electricity

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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.


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.