Feisty residents take their fight to the constitutional court

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

Khutsong residents have lodged an application with the constitutional court that their incorporation into North West from Gauteng be reversed.

Khutsong, part of Merafong city local municipality, was previously part of the West Rand municipality, but was transferred to North West in terms of the Constitution Twelfth Amendment Act of 2005.

The objective of the act was to do away with cross-boundary municipalities. Merafong was a cross-boundary municipality with Khutsong and Carletonville falling in the northern part under Gauteng. In the southern part of Merafong City was Fochville and Wedela, now part of the Southern District municipality under North West.

In the application the residents argue that the Gauteng legislature failed to comply "with the constitutional obligation envisaged in section 118 (1)(a) of the Constitution, to facilitate public involvement in considering and approving part of the Twelfth Amendment pertaining to Gauteng and specifically Merafong".

They say only one public meeting was held to canvas opinion and it took place after the National Assembly had, on December 15 2005, voted in favour of the Twelfth Amendment Bill, which endorsed the transfer of Merafong to North West. This meeting, residents argue, was public participation in "form" only and not in "substance".

"The belief by the applicants is that the move of Merafong to North West had, as early as 2004, been decided by political structures and government and nothing thereafter could change the government's mind," read the application.

During the meeting on November 25, residents argued that transferring social services, home affairs, health and emergency services, education systems and local programmes to the relatively poor North West would be detrimental to service delivery in Merafong. They argued that the decision to incorporate Merafong into North West did not make socio-economic sense and was irrational. They pointed out that 75percent of residents in Merafong were located in Gauteng.