WHY does it take a court order, or the threat of litigation, to get the municipality to do its job?
That question was asked by two different people this very week. Both are involved in high court cases against Ndlambe Municipality, one of which was concluded last year – though its ramifications are still in effect – and the other this week.
Simon Oliver, chairman of the Kenton-on-Sea Ratepayers Association (Kosra), asked this question as he reflected on Kosra’s lawsuit against Ndlambe which dragged on for a few years, until Kosra was granted a structural/supervisory interdict compelling the municipality to rectify problems at the Marselle/Bushman’s River dump and to properly maintain a sewage pump station which had been leaking raw sewage into the Bushman’s River.
The interdict required the municipality to make regular report-backs to the court on the progress of the work it had to undertake.
The municipality evaded one hurdle by closing the dump sooner than intended, thus deftly avoiding a litany of issues it had to rectify at the chaotic landfill site.
Farmer Brent McNamara also pondered the necessity of taking the municipality to court about the issue of mismanaged commonages and stray cattle, things which should have already been taken care of if the municipality only heeded its own comprehensive bylaws.
He was magnanimous at least in saying that the municipality was willing to co-operate after papers were served.
“The willingness by the municipality to finally accept their responsibility for bylaw enforcement without wasting funds on unnecessary litigation must be seen in a positive light,” McNamara said.
Still, it doesn’t answer the question why it had to get to that point before municipal officials were willing to sit around a table with farmers to come to an agreed upon resolution.
The safety net for farmers of course is that the agreement was made an order of court. If not, there is no way to hold the municipality accountable to do what it must.
In October last year, just before he died, Medolino Caravan Park owner Derek Victor met with mayor Phindile Faxi and municipal officials to hand over brand new pumps to the municipality which will kick in during flooding, thus avoiding a repeat of the terrible 2012 floods.
Victor paid for the pumps – he wanted the municipality to take ownership and assume its rightful responsibility for the dam in the park.
Faxi expressed gratitude and assured that documents would be signed as a matter of urgency, perhaps even before the council meeting later that month. They still have not been signed. The mayor made platitudes to a dying man.
– Jon Houzet