Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist


Court orders government to exempt schools, hospitals, police stations from load shedding

The Pretoria High Court reserved the judgment in part B of the case.


Government has been ordered to ensure that all public hospitals, clinics, schools and police stations are exempt from load shedding.

In a judgment delivered on Friday, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ordered the Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan to “take all reasonable steps within 60 days” to make sure there is sufficient electricity supply to the facilities.

Gordhan must also ensure that generators and other alternate energy supplies are secured to prevent power cuts.

The court further reserved the judgment in part B of the case.

Background

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) and 18 other litigants approached the court in a bid to compel government to exempt essential services like public health institutions and schools, among others, from load shedding.

They also applied to exempt water and sanitation services, small businesses that deal in perishable goods, and cellphone networks from rolling blackouts.

ALSO READ: ‘Load shedding is not an act of God’ – ANC, Eskom responsible, court told

The applicants, in part B, are seeking an order holding President Cyril Ramaphosa, as head of the national executive, legally responsible for the human cost of load shedding.

The case’s respondents included the Presidency, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, (DMRE), and the Eskom management and board.

‘Crisis persist unabated’

One of the applicants, ActionSA, hailed the court’s judgment.

“The legal victory ensures that communities across South Africa will no longer be subject to the failures of the ANC and Eskom, which have left our communities at their mercy when hospitals, police stations and schools lose electricity during increasing levels of load shedding,” ActionSA’s head of strategic litigation, Gillian Benson, said in a statement on Friday.

Benson confirmed that part B of the case has been enrolled for a hearing in September.

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

“After almost 15 years of load shedding it is clear that the ANC government lacks the will to resolve the crisis, leaving South Africans in the dark. It is our belief that without urgent intervention by our courts, the government will continue to let the ensuing crisis persist unabated,” she added.

Build One South Africa (Bosa) leader Mmusi Maimane also welcomed the court ruling.

“We have long maintained that you cannot have load shedding in schools, hospitals and police stations.

“Today the court has ruled in our favour. This is a critical victory. As Build One SA we will continue to fight this government until South Africans win and power is restored,” Maimane said in a tweet.

Load shedding stage

Meanwhile, Eskom has announced that load shedding will be reduced to stage 3 and stage 4 on Saturday and Sunday due to lower demand over the weekend.

The power utility said the return to service of some generating units also led to the slight reduction in load shedding stages.

“Breakdowns are currently at 17 245MW of generating capacity, while the generating capacity out of service for planned maintenance is 4 468MW,” Eskom said on Friday.

NOW READ: Load shedding: South Africans face cold, dark winter with no end in sight

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