High court rules private citizens can fix roads – then charge government for it
March 13, 2017
A 1 March 2017 High-court decision has set a new precedent that could allow for private citizens and bodies to perform basic service delivery functions with taxpayers’ money.
In the judgement, the Eastern Cape High Court ordered the provincial Roads Department to reimburse farmers who carry out maintenance themselves, subject to strict conditions including giving the department 30 days notice of the repairs and obtaining at least two independent quotes.
At the time of the judgement, president of Agri Eastern Cape, Douglas Steyn, noted that the ruling would likely to have far-reaching consequences around the country as other farmers and civil society groups will follow suit.
This was confirmed by civil group Afriforum, who noted that it has subsequently begun using similar legal means to provide basic service delivery functions around the country.
Speaking in the 12 March edition of the Rapport, head of AfriForum’s local governance division, Marcus Pawson, noted that it had not only been reimbursed for roads but other basic services such as 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 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.