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Eskom Concedes That Outrage Over Power Cuts Warranted

Lawyer Azhar Bham said that Eskom admitted that the outrage over load shedding was warranted.

Eskom, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), and the government are locked in a legal battle with several political parties and unions over the country’s electricity crisis.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), United Democratic Movement (UDM), and ActionSA have joined forces with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) in a bid to have schools, hospitals and police stations exempt from load shedding.

The group of political parties and unions also wants the government to be held liable for constitutional misconduct for failing to prevent load shedding.

They argued that government’s response to load shedding is unconstitutional, adding that it violated a number of fundamental human rights.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who represents the applicants, has argued that government knew as early as 1999 that a crisis was looming, citing a white paper that warned speedy intervention was needed to avert the energy crisis.

Bham, who represents the power utility, made the admission when hearings kicked off in a virtual sitting at the Pretoria High Court on Monday.

While government and Eskom conceded that the frustrations and concerns brought on by the power cuts are warranted, Bham said that exempting industries from load shedding would further cripple the already fragile grid.

“If you were to force it on them, you do risk the collapse of the grid.”

The hearing was adjourned to Wednesday for Bham to continue his heads of argument.