On Tuesday 19 July 2022, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) obtained an order in the case of Thulani Mashibini vs Rand West City Municipality (Case 34799/22) in the Pretoria High Court instructing the Rand West City municipality to reconnect the electricity of Mr Thulani Mashibini.
Mr Mashibini was employed by Gold Fields South Deep Gold Mine (Gold Fields) and the branch secretary of the local NUM branch. Following a protected strike in 2018 he was dismissed, but charges were subsequently overturned at a CCMA arbitration hearing. Mr Mashibini is living in a property owned by Gold Fields and was paying for electricity on a pre-paid basis supplied by the municipality. He was however disconnected without warning in May this year.
What subsequently emerged was that Gold Fields had instructed the municipality to disconnect Mr Mashibini’s electricity and the municipality had failed to follow its own bylaws regarding disconnections. Importantly, this must include 14-days’ notice and an opportunity for the occupant to challenge the decision.
Mr Mashibini contacted LHR after municipal officials refused to re-connect him. LHR took up the case and after several letters Gold Fields conceded that they had no objection to the municipality reconnecting Mashibini’s electricity. However, despite requests, the municipality failed to do this. This left LHR with no option but to seek an urgent court order for Mr Mashibini’s reconnection.
David Dickinson in LHR’s Land and Housing Programme said; “This case illustrates that municipalities may disconnect electricity, but only if there is a legally valid reason in terms of the Electricity Regulation Act, and if they follow their own bylaws, which must conform to the Municipal Systems Act. We are pleased that the High Court has vindicated our stand and that Mr Mashibini and his family can again live a normal life.”
Support for this case was generously provided by Comic Relief.
For information contact:
Louise du Plessis, manager of the LHR Land and Housing Programme
Cell: 082 346 0744