The North Gauteng High Court ruled load-shedding violates human rights and ordered electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa to ensure hospitals, clinics, schools and police stations are unaffected.
It followed a similar ruling in May, where the same court ruled hospitals, clinics, state schools, and police stations should not be subject to load-shedding.
In his ruling, Judge Norman Davis ordered the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to “take all reasonable steps” within 60 days to ensure these facilities do not endure power cuts.
The judgment said the state failed in its constitutional and statutory duties to ensure citizens’ rights to healthcare, security, and education.
The case was brought by 19 applicants against Eskom, President Cyril Ramaphosa, and others to declare load-shedding unconstitutional.
The applicants include the UDM, Action SA, the IFP, BOSA, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).
Apart from widespread load-shedding exemptions, they want the president, ministers, and the South African government to be held responsible for load-shedding and its impact on society.
However, Gordhan lodged an urgent appeal to set aside the judgment.
Gordhan said his department had serious concerns about the implications of the court ruling on the current efforts to stabilise the national grid and get the country out of load shedding.
“The judgment would have unintended consequences and undermine the efforts to balance the protection of the rights that were ventilated in this case, with the need to stabilise and protect our grid infrastructure,” he said.
However, in the recent ruling, judge Norman Davis said the previous order in May was “just and equitable”.
BOSA welcomed the ruling, calling it a monumental victory for South Africans who suffer daily due to persistent electricity cuts.
“We will be monitoring the developments of this duty placed on the government and will leave no stone unturned to ensure the judgment is honoured,” the party said.
It added that rolling blackouts cost the economy billions and that the judiciary acted in the people’s best interests and held this government to account.
The Presidency and affected departments said they noted the judgement handed down by the Pretoria High Court.
“The Presidency is studying the judgement and will, in due course, pronounce further steps on the matter,” it said.