Court orders council to stop disconnections

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KWEKWE City Council, which began the year on an offensive of disconnecting water supplies in an attempt to force defaulters to pay, has been ordered by the court to stop the action.

BLESSED MHLANGA
STAFF REPORTER

The order to stop the disconnections was issued by Kwekwe magistrate Vimbai Mutukwa in case 93/2015 in which she ordered the local authority to reconnect water supplies to Jackie Ngulube of Mbizo.

Council closed water valves to Ngulube’s house over an alleged debt of $318 on January 19 after scaling the fence since nobody was home.

Ngulube disputed owing the local authority any outstanding bills.

In his founding affidavit, Ngulube argued that water disconnections were illegal and unconstitutional and should, therefore, be stopped.

“I learnt that water disconnections are unconstitutional and illegal as has been confirmed through High Court ruling by (judge) Justice Chinembiri Bhunu in respect of case number HC4266/2013 in the matter between Tapiwa Mushoriwa vs City of Harare,” he wrote in his application.

“I have also learnt that the Section 8 of Statutory Instrument 164 of 1913, which local authorities have been relying on for disconnecting water supplies has been rendered as unconstitutional in the said Case Number HC4266/2013, which makes the conduct of the first respondent (Kwekwe City Council) wrongful and unlawful.”

Programmes director of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa, Obert Chinhamo, whose organisation was behind the application encouraged all people to take legal action if local authorities continue disconnecting water without following the due process of the law.

“I would like to believe that the High Court ruling by Justice Chinembiri Bhunu in Case Number HC4266/2013 involving Tapiwa Mushoriwa and City of Harare was well publicised and the City of Kwekwe cannot or at all claim ignorance of this case,” he said.

“Water disconnections are inherently illegal, unconstitutional and a violation of human rights.”

Mutukwa ordered the local authority to restore Ngulube’s water supplies with immediate effect, failure to which, the Messenger of Court was empowered to do the reconnections.