Court slams Joubert Park Landlords for illegal service reconnection

In a significant legal victory for the City of Johannesburg, another court judgment has been welcomed, this time targeting landlords of the Joubert Park Property in the Inner-city who illicitly reinstated water and electricity services and abused court orders to evade payments owed to the city.

The saga dates back to 2020 when the landlords of Joubert Park Property, comprising 79 units, resorted to obtaining no less than five court orders in a desperate bid to halt the city’s efforts to disconnect their services due to years of non-payment for municipal services.

Despite continuous consumption of water and electricity services since 2015, the property had only made a paltry payment of R2,000 in April 2023, towards these utilities.

The recent ruling from the High Court in the Gauteng Division has not only condemned the actions of the property’s landlords but also underscored the prevailing culture of entitlement.
Acting Judge N Cassim AJ, in a scathing indictment, criticized the landlords for their illegal connections and their attempts to manipulate the legal system to perpetuate their wrongdoings.

“When in frustration the respondents terminate the services, there is a further urgent application or resort to self-help. There are principles I wish to articulate…our courts should not encourage illegality in any form,” Judge Cassim said.

Highlighting the obligations that accompany basic rights, the judge emphasized the need for everyone, including landlords, to fulfill their responsibilities, particularly regarding payment for municipal services.

The ruling demanded the Joubert Park Property to settle a staggering amount of R805,022 for services consumed, alongside bearing the legal costs incurred.

Furthermore, Judge Cassim lambasted the prevailing entitlement culture in South Africa, asserting that it cannot be tolerated. The ruling ordered the property to pay a reconnection fee of R10,177.50 per unit and an additional R77,000.00 excluding VAT for new service connections. Monthly service charges are also to be paid in accordance with meter readings.

The judgment carries broader implications as it addresses the mounting debt owed to the city, which currently exceeds R48 billion, primarily due to illegal service connections by businesses, residents, and organizations.

This staggering figure poses a significant challenge to the city’s financial sustainability.

In response to the ruling, the City of Johannesburg emphasized its commitment to recovering debts owed for rates and taxes, sewer, electricity, and water.

Customers in arrears are encouraged to reach out to the City’s Credit Control Department to arrange payment plans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *