[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Service delivery protests by white right
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat May 2 07:29:39 BST 2009
GOVT Taking legal action against residents withholding taxes
JOHANNESBURG - The Tswaing municipality in the North West was turning to
the courts to compel residents withholding their taxes in protest
against poor service delivery to pay up.
This was after residents of Sannieshof, one of the three towns falling
under the municipality opted to withhold their taxes, placing it in a
private fund until service delivery improved.
Tswaing municipal manager Dakota Legoete said residents would be taken
to the court should they fail to adhere to the letters of demand sent to
“I am taking them to court... What they are doing is illegal and they
are not negotiating in good faith that’s why we are resorting to legal
action,” he said.
Despite meetings held with the Sannieshof ratepayers association on a
monthly basis, the parties remain at odds with one another.
“They are shifting the goalposts, their demands increase every time,”
It was illegal for rates and taxes to be paid to any body or fund other
than the municipality.
According to the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), who co-ordinates the
withholding of taxes in towns across the country, the ruling in the
Sannieshof case, should it go to court, would decide if “pro-active
action” was legal under South African law.
“That is going to be a watershed case... if the Sannieshof residents win
the case, it means that all citizens of South Africa can legitimately
withhold their rates from municipalities if they are not happy with the
way their towns or cities are being run,” said NTU head Jaap Kelder.
Around 21 towns across the country were already withholding taxes while
230 others were in the process of implementing it.
Leading the “protest” against poor service delivery in Sannieshof is
Karin Visser who said she was aware of the pending court action against
the residents, although she had not received any formal notification.
“I have not received summons yet... but their attorney warned me last
week saying they will deliver summons today.
“They are actually intimidating us or trying to victimise us into
paying,” she said.
Sannieshof residents declared a dispute with the municipality 18 months
ago and began channelling their rates and taxes into an alternative fund
until government stepped up delivery.
In the meantime, Visser said, residents were keeping the town running by
performing municipal services themselves.
“Its going very well, everyone pitches in. We are trying to sort out the
sewerage, which is a mess,” she said.
Legoete acknowledged that there were challenges in providing services
due to ageing infrastructure and a rapid increase in the population,
especially in the towns.
“We do face challenges... and most have to do with resources and them
ŠratepayersÆ withholding taxes makes it worse. The population in the
area has also increased and we have not been able to keep up,” he said.
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