Wednesday, March 04, 2015

City manager gets six months in jail for not paying Eskom bill

This was the headline of an article published in the Rand Daily Mail on 25 February 2015 -

It states that this landmark judgment by Free State High Court is the first serious action taken against local government defaulters and relates to a municipal manager being found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to six months in jail.

The article reports that `The official in this case was the acting municipal manager of Matjhabeng municipality, Mothusi Frank Lepheana. The municipality, the second largest in the Free State, includes over 400 000 people in a number of towns and cities including Welkom.’ Matjhabeng is in arrears with its payments to Eskom to an amount estimated to be approximately R500 m.

Several court orders to the Municipal Manager requiring the submission of certain information were reportedly ignored and Mr Lepheana failed to comply with these orders or to explain to the court why it was not possible to do so. There was also no payment of the arrear amounts still outstanding or of the interest due.

The Judge in the case stated that “Willful disobedience of an order of court made in civil proceedings is a criminal offence,” and municipalities had a constitutional duty to comply with court orders and thus “lead by example”.

Municipal readers of this article may wish to obtain a full copy of the article, using the link provided above for forwarding to their Municipal Managers for information.

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