Poultry producer Astral Foods has obtained a court order against government and Treasury, following a failure to provide the town of Standerton - where the company has its operations - with electricity and water.
Astral - whose brands include Goldi, Festive and Mountain Valley - has been locked in a battle with Standerton's Lekwa Municipality in Mpumalanga following regular water and power interruptions that resulted in bruising losses for the company over the past few years.
"The poor service delivery from the Lekwa Municipality is untenable, and Astral decided to take extraordinary steps in launching legal proceedings against the provincial and national government to hold them accountable for the failures in municipal service delivery in Standerton," said Astral CEO Chris Schutte, in a statement on Tuesday.
The chicken producer is Standerton’s biggest employer and its battle with Lekwa dates back to 2018, when it had to drag the municipality to court to obtain an order that compelled it to submit a long-term plan on how and when it will repair and improve its utility infrastructure. But Schutte said Astral never received the plan.
"In terms of the agreed order issued yesterday, national government will now intervene in Lekwa Municipality and, together with Treasury, will prepare a financial recovery plan as contemplated in the Municipal Finance Management Act (56 of 2003)," he said, referring to the Pretoria High Court order Astral obtained on Monday.
The order also allows for Astral to approach the court again, should the recovery plan not be implemented.
"We confirm our full support to national government and Treasury and look forward to cooperating further in the interests of resolving the very serious issues currently being faced by the Lekwa Municipality, and the impact that this is having on our operations and the community living and working in the area," concluded Schutte.