The high court in Pretoria has ruled that all government hospitals and clinics, state schools and the country’s police buildings be spared from power cuts.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan must “take all reasonable steps within 60 days” to prevent interruption of electricity supply due to rotational blackouts implemented by state-owned utility Eskom, according to a ruling by three judges.
In cases where buildings or sites can’t be isolated from the grid to exempt them from load shedding, the minister must make arrangements for alternative energy supplies, such as generators.
The ruling follows an application by opposition parties, trade unions and civil society groups that also included demands for exemptions for small businesses and agriculture and for electricity tariff increases to be suspended. Eskom has carried out power cuts on all but one day this year.
Earlier this year, former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter warned if the applicants succeed in having the blackouts interdicted, the utility would need to halt essential maintenance that would make the situation worse. — René Vollgraaff and Antony Sguazzin, (c) 2023 Bloomberg LP\