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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Ramokgopa must spark: Landmark load shedding ruling a ‘lesson’ for ‘arrogant ministers’

Court ruling orders electricity minister to put plans in place to prevent load shedding at schools, police stations and hospitals.

The Pretoria High Court ruling declaring load shedding unconstitutional and a violation of basic human rights has been lauded by ActionSA as a “landmark” judgment – with Bantu Holomisa labelling it a “lesson” for “arrogant ministers”.  

Court ruling shows Gordhan ‘has no heart for the people’ – UDM

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader responded to Friday’s ruling by taking a swipe at Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan for having no “heart for the people”.

Scopa Eskom load shedding
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Photo: Gallo Images/ Jeffrey Abrahams

“We welcome the court decision, and I hope that it’s a lesson to these arrogant ministers, especially Pravin Gordhan [Public Enterprises Minister], who wasted the time of South Africans by appealing instead of addressing the original judgment.   

“It showed that he has no heart for the people of South Africa,” Holomisa said. 

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Blackouts a result of ‘government’s failure’

The judgment – delivered by Judge Norman Davis on behalf of the full bench – further stated that load shedding was a result of the government’s failure to:

  • Open the electricity generation market;
  • Implement the Independent Power Procurement Programme (IPPP);
  • Prevent delays in constructing the Medupi and Kusile power stations; and
  • Failure protect Eskom from criminal activity, corruption and state capture.

ActionSA: Load shedding exemption ruling ‘guarantees basic services’

ActionSA national chairperson, Michael Beaumont, welcomed the court ruling in favour of the party’s request that hospitals, schools and police stations be exempted from rolling blackouts.

“It helps to ensure that communities across South Africa who have been so negatively affected by police station telephone lines not working during load shedding, or hospitals failing to take care of sick patients when the lights go out, can now be assured that they will get the basic services guaranteed by our Constitution.

Exemption deadline: Electricity minister must spark to deliver

The court ordered Electricity Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramakgopa to take steps to offset the interruption of electricity supply as a result of Eskom’s load shedding to these public institutions before the end of January 2024.

A total of 19 applicants were listed on the court documents, ranging from political parties, trade union federations, civic organisations and private individuals, while the nine respondents included the government, several ministers, Eskom and Ramakgopa.

ALSO READ: Supplying electricity Ramaphosa’s constitutional duty, not municipalities’, court told

Infringement on Constitutional rights

Furthermore, the judgment declares that the listed breaches add up to the infringement of the following rights enshrined in the Constitution: 

  • Human dignity;
  • The right to life; 
  • Freedom and security; 
  • An environment that is not harmful to health and wellbeing; 
  • Access to healthcare services; 
  • Access to sufficient food and water; and 
  • The right to basic education. 

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This is the second part of the court case, which consolidates three applications related to the country’s crippling energy crisis which has been ongoing since 2007.

The first, which was brought by the UDM, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), ActionSA, the National Union for Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), as well as other organisations, sought for hospitals, schools and police stations to be exempted from the brunt of load shedding.

In the first ruling, which was delivered in May 2023, Gordhan was ordered to take all reasonable steps within two months (60 days) to ensure the essential services delivered by these institutions were not affected by the power cuts.

Ramaphosa responds to load shedding exemption ruling

Meanwhile, the Presidency issued a statement in response to Friday’s court ruling, saying President Cyril Ramaphosa and the affected departments “note” the judgment which they are currently studying.

Ramaphosa, who is attending the UN COP28 climate summit in Dubai, remarked on Saturday that the load shedding exemption ruling speaks to “what we want to see done”.

EWN reported that, according to the president, steps have been taken towards employing qualified professionals at Eskom, which includes the appointment of a CEO.

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