The High Court in the Western Cape has dismissed the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) bid to have the ban on the Garden Route overturned.
The official opposition has welcomed the ruling with mixed feelings.
“While we are disappointed by the ruling in favour of beach closures, we welcome the amended hours of beach operation which we have managed to get changed from 09:00 to 18:00, to 06:00 to 19:00. We also welcome the court’s awarding of 50% of our costs as per the ruling,” it says.
The Democratic Alliance says it is deeply concerned over the Garden Route ban, saying it is a devastating blow to the thousands of small businesses along the area, which are now at serious risk of collapse.
The party believes the ban will have far-reaching and devastating consequences for local economies, and for the livelihoods which depend on seasonal tourism during this time.
“This problem will not go away once South Africa emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, and we cannot ignore the risk to livelihoods which many lockdown restrictions present,” says DA leader, John Steenhuisen.
The party has vowed to continue its quest to preserve and protect a balance between lives and livelihoods.
Garden Route District Mayor, Alderman Booysen, has described the beaches’ closure as a hard pill to swallow, saying it comes as the district was struggling to recoup from the hard lockdown.
Meanwhile, a decision on an urgent application before the High Court in Pretoria to have Eastern Cape and Garden Route beaches reopened is expected on Wednesday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the closure of some of the country’s beaches in COVID-19 hot spot areas over the festive season last week due to the surge in infections.
While some beaches in the Western Cape remain operational, in KwaZulu-Natal they will only be closed on the busiest days of the festive season. These include on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality in the North West has been given 10 working days to supply potable water to Koster and Swartruggens residents.
Failure to do this, will result in the authorisation of the Kgetlengrivier Residents Association to take control of the municipal water works at the towns.
The North West High Court made the ruling on Friday.
According to the Democratic Alliance (DA), a similar order will apply if the municipality fails to take steps to prevent raw sewage from flowing into contaminating the Koster and Elands rivers. Meaning that the residents association will have the power to appoint qualified people to operate the water works at both towns. The municipality and the North West provincial government will then pay for the services rendered.
Welcoming the ruling – the DA says whether or not the judgment is overturned by a higher court, it sounds a serious warning about the constitutional implication of years of corruption and mismanagement in local government.
“We hope that it will end the silence of the minister responsible for local government, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, about the failure of ANC-controlled municipalities,” the party’s Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Cilliers Brink,says.
The Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality is one of the many North West municipalities that are under financial strain allegedly due to non-payment of services by residents. It has also been dogged by poor service delivery issues.
In June 2018, the Koster Ratepayers’ Association was granted permission to take control of the municipality’s water and refuse systems following failure to deliver the services to residents.
In February 2020, Cogta deployed a financial expert to work with the municipality in a bid to turn around its finances. It also roped in water utility, Magalies Water and the Department of Water and Sanitation as part of efforts to improve the water supply in the area.
Government has blamed ageing infrastructure, resulting in frequent breakdowns of water pipelines from Koster Dam, Witrand booster pump station and Koster water treatment works, for the water supply challenges.