The Pretoria high court has ordered Eskom to pay nearly R2million in damages after its workers hacked the fruit trees of a Mpumalanga farmer.
In 2000, Peter Wood of Hazyview took the power supplier to court complaining that the manner in which they had cut trees on his farm was "vandalistic".
Wood said he had been away on business in 2000 when Eskom workers arrived on his farm and hacked the trees down to a height of 0,5m to 1m.
Eskom said the trees were interfering with its power lines.
The trees were reportedly not pruned, but a "vandalistic approach" was used with no consideration for the wellbeing of the trees or the economic interest of the farmer.
The court heard that the bark had been stripped and as a result the branches had been unable to shoot again.
Tom Dreyer, Wood's attorney, said an amount of R369000 was initially claimed in May 2004.
"But Eskom dragged its feet . resulting in them paying R1,5million more," he said.
Dreyer said that when the case went to trial, specialist opinion was sought to determine the future loss resulting from the damage to the trees.
Judge John Murphy has ordered Eskom to pay R1,97million in damages.
He said though Eskom had the right to ensure that the trees did not interfere with the safe operation of the power line, it had no right to cut them down in a wrongful manner.