Court victory for municipality in cut power case

A woman, who had her electricity cut by the Moqhaka Municipality in the Free State for withholding her rates and taxes, lost her Constitutional Court appeal.

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Olga Rademan lives in Kroonstad and refused to pay taxes and levies on her property, out of protest to poor service delivery. She is a member of the Moqhaka Rate Payers’ and Residents’ Association to which she paid the amount due for property rates. She had however paid the Municipality what was due for services, including electricity. On 17 August 2009, Rademan’s electricity was cut off by the municipality.

Rademan brought an urgent application before the Kroonstad magistrate’s court for the restoration of her electricity supply and this was granted. The Municipality appealed to the High Court, and the High Court overturned the Magistrate’s decision finding that the Municipality was within its rights to disconnect Rademan’s electricity. The Supreme Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court, and Rademan appealed to the Constitutional Court.

In a judgment written by Justice Raymond Zondo, the Constitutional Court held that Rademan had violated the payment conditions in terms of the relevant legislative framework, and the fact she had paid her electricity account did not preclude the Municipality from cutting off her electricity. The Municipality was therefore entitled to disconnect her electricity, for withholding her taxes and levies.

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