Eskom on Tuesday agreed to refrain from disconnecting electricity supply to Madibeng (Brits) in the North West and Lekwa local municipality (Standerton) in Mpumalanga until its decision to do so has been reviewed by the High Court in Pretoria. The review will be heard in May this year.
The municipalities are in arrears on their Eskom bills.
This follows after eight large power users in Madibeng and three in Lekwa approached the court in an effort to stop Eskom from disconnecting their municipalities due to non-payment.
All the parties agreed to interim court orders that would guarantee continued power supply until the review applications could be heard between 2 and 5 May in the same court.
Tyre manufacturer Bridgestone SA and seven other applicants will in May argue that there should be judicial oversight over any decision by Eskom to disconnect a municipality. That means that Eskom would have to obtain a court order before it could proceed with such action.
The court process would allow other affected parties, like the applicants, to put before the court the adverse effect of a decision to disconnect.
Madibeng gets more than 60% of its electricity revenue from the applicants. In court papers they said they need constant power supply and any interruptions could result in 2 400 job losses.
Eskom on the other hand will argue that it acts in terms of its supply agreement with the relevant municipality.
Eskom also agreed on Tuesday to put its detailed decision as well as the reasons for the decision on the court record.
Madibeng has earlier agreed to a payment plan to address its outstanding debt to Eskom, but the applicants insisted they need protection by the court in case Madibeng defaults on the agreement.
Poultry producer Astral Foods and animal food producers Meadow Feeds reached an agreement with Eskom and Lekwa with regard to the disconnection of electricity supply to Lekwa, as did Standerton Oil Mills and its holding company Cofco SA.
The parties agreed that the companies would make their monthly electricity payments into the trust account of Lekwa’s attorney. The attorney will pay it over to Eskom without any deduction.
The companies will continue to do so until the review application has been finalised.
Lekwa agreed to pay the balance of its outstanding bulk supply bill to Eskom and supply Eskom with a record of its monthly electricity collections until its debt is paid in full.
Lekwa further agreed to pay 15% of its equitable share – that is the contribution it gets from national government, to Eskom towards it arrears, until the debt is paid.
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