Court exempts schools and hospitals from load shedding – but there’s a catch

 ·6 May 2023

South Africa’s High Court has ruled that all government hospitals and clinics, state schools and the country’s police buildings be spared from power cuts.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan must “take all reasonable steps within 60 days” to prevent interruption of electricity supply due to rotational blackouts implemented by state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., according to a ruling by three judges from the court in Pretoria.

In cases where buildings or sites can’t be isolated from the grid to exempt them from so-called loadshedding, the minister must make arrangements for alternative energy supplies, such as generators.

The ruling follows an application by opposition parties, labor unions and civil-society groups that also included demands for exemptions for small businesses and agriculture and for electricity-tariff increases to be suspended. Eskom has carried out power cuts on all but one day this year.

Earlier this year, former Eskom Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter warned if the applicants succeed in having the blackouts interdicted, the utility would need to halt essential maintenance that would make the situation worse.

Cape Town-based News24 reported on the ruling earlier.

Read: Eskom ramps up load shedding this weekend – here’s the schedule

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