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March 14th, 2017 by


The Eastern Cape High Court has set a new precedent that allows private citizens and bodies to perform basic service delivery functions, for which they will be reimbursed by the Government.

The Court Proceedings

In the judgement on 1 March, the Eastern Cape High Court ordered the provincial Roads Department to reimburse farmers who carry out maintenance themselves, subject to strict conditions.

The Provincial Government has been accused in the past of “completely stonewalling” efforts by Eastern Cape farmers to draw attention to the poor state of gravel farm roads.

According to Ernest Pringle, honorary president of Agri Eastern Cape, who submitted the founding affidavit, the failure to repair and maintain the road network of farming communities in the Eastern Cape has prevailed for more than ten years.

Agri EC tried, through correspondence and meetings, to resolve the problem without approaching the court, but to little avail.

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Conditions Of Private Citizens Undertaking Road Maintenance

As mentioned, the Eastern Cape High Court has ordered the provincial government Roads Department to reimburse farmers who carry out maintenance themselves. This will, however, be subject to strict conditions. These include giving the department 30 days notice of the repairs and obtaining at least two independent quotes.

The current president of Agri Eastern Cape, Douglas Steyn, noted that the ruling would likely have far-reaching consequences around the country. This due to the fact that other farmers and civil society groups will follow suit.

Civil group Afriforum has noted that this ruling has subsequently begun using similar legal means to provide basic service delivery functions around the country.

Marcus Pawson, head of AfriForum’s local government division, noted that it had not only been reimbursed for roads, but other basic services as well. These included the removal of trees, and the replacement of water pumps.

Pawson and Afriforum also announced plans to use the judgment to set precedent in other provincial jurisdictions. This so that people would not have to be reimbursed on a case-by-case basis. But could then implement the fixes using specific legal guidelines.

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