Merafong court challenge welcomed

A court challenge to the incorporation of Merafong local municipality into North West will be welcomed by Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi.

A court challenge to the incorporation of Merafong local municipality into North West will be welcomed by Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi.

"We haven't received any letters, but we generally know that the Khutsong community wants to approach the constitutional court - and the minister welcomes that," said Mufamadi's spokesman Zandi Ratshitanga.

"We live in a democracy that offers protest and court as an option, but it doesn't allow for violence."

Recent anti-demarcation protests in Khutsong resulted in barricaded roads, petrol bombs and stones being thrown at police and passing vehicles, and the petrol-bombing of two houses.

Papers to overturn the demarcation would be filed in the constitutional court "hopefully" within the next four weeks, said Advocate Rudolph Jansen, national director of Lawyers for Human Rights.

The case would argue that insufficient consultation with residents had taken place and question whether the demarcation had been a rational exercise, he said.

Merafong formally became part of North West in December, said municipal spokesman Seabo Gaeganelwe.

The municipality was one of 17 affected when the final green light was given to legislation doing away with cross-boundary municipalities by the National Council of Provinces.

Gaeganelwe said the issue was demarcation and not incorporation.

"Part of our area fell within North West and parts fell within Gauteng. We were actively controlled by two provinces.

South African Communist Party chairman in Khutsong Jack Mathige said the anti-demarcation application was supported by "98 percent" of people in Khutsong.

"We must challenge it. The only solution is to challenge the demarcation through the constitutional court. Our case is clear."

The constitutional court ruled on a similar matter for the Matatiele Municipality last year.

Judge Sandile Ngcobo found that there was not sufficient public participation in the legislative process, which was inconsistent with the constitution.

The demarcation was found to be unconstitutional and the state was given 18 months to "cure the procedural problems," said Advocate Jansen.

Jansen said a letter of demand was written to the state after the judgment, asking whether the government would concede to a similar order for Khutsong.

Lawyers for Human Rights then agreed to give the state attorney until January 15 to indicate its client's attitude.

No formal reply was received and the matter was referred to counsel to prepare papers.

This week Mufamadi said he was satisfied that sufficient consultation was undertaken before integrating the area into the North West, SABC news reported. - Sapa

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