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Court to rule on Newcastle residents’ debt towards Eskom

The municipality was shielded by the Pietermaritzburg High Court, which ruled that cutting off power would have a devastating impact on the local economy.

FILE: The judge ordered Eskom not to cut power but also instructed the municipality to pay instalments of R30 million per month. Picture: Pexels.com

DURBAN - Residents of Newcastle will find out on Friday if their power will be cut off by Eskom because the municipality has failed to settle R200 million debt, which it accumulated over the last two years.

The municipality was shielded by the Pietermaritzburg High Court, which ruled that cutting off the power would have a devastating impact on the local economy.

The Newcastle Local Municipality was among dozens of others in the country, which owed Eskom millions of rand. The power utility claimed debt owed to it by municipalities and a lack of payment was crippling its operations.

In a desperate attempt to force the Newcastle Local Municipality to pay its debt, Eskom issued a notice to residents saying it intended to cut power on weekdays from 6 am to 08:30 pm.

In October, Judge Pieter Bezuidenhout admitted that Eskom was justified to demand payment by the municipality, but said cutting off power may cripple the municipality thereby limiting its ability to generate money to pay it back.

The judge ordered Eskom not to cut power but also instructed the municipality to pay instalments of R30 million per month.

The court is expected to pronounce on the way forward on Friday.

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