Municipality, service provider pay dispute plays out in court

The Nketoana local municipality has turned to the high court in Bloemfontein in an attempt to prevent service providers from shutting down the municipality’s operations.

This after service providers blocked entrances to the municipality’s premises using TLBs and their vehicles over a week ago, threatening a total shutdown until they received their three months payment.

Seyo Motaung and Chippa Motaung of Sedmo Trading are the first and second respondents, respectively, while their supporters are listed as third respondents.

The court has authorised the sheriff and police to remove any obstructions blocking entrance and exit points to the premises.

Respondents warned

The respondents have also been prohibited from interfering with the daily running of the municipality by any means possible including placing any objects at the gates or provoking other workers to join their protest.

The respondents have been interdicted from damaging or threatening to damage the municipal property, assaulting and intimidating staff or hindering the municipality premises.

“The applicant is granted leave to file a supplementary founding affidavit [if required] on or before the return date to provide details of any relevant factual developments regarding the matter,” reads the court document in part.

“The costs relating to the obtaining of this order on an urgent ex parte basis shall be costs in the application to be adjudicated on the return date.”

The infuriated contractor had put the municipality on lockdown after months of non-payment of salaries and demanded over R500 000, which was only paid after blocking an entrance to the municipality’s premises.

The company is responsible for road maintenance in and around town and complains that the municipality is quick to delay payments without considering that the road resealing project would also be delayed.

Motaung, Sedmo Trading administrator told Sunday World that there has been no effective communication with the municipal manager apart from a court interdict.

Court interdict

He said they were called to the municipal manager’s office after blocking entrances to the municipality’s premises and were informed that municipal accounts have been attached and that it could not afford to pay service providers.

They were then informed that the municipality executives were heading to Bloemfontein to follow up on the attached accounts matter, only to come back with an interdict from the Bloemfontein High Court.

“This is now a court matter because they are not being honest with us or at least communicating how we will get paid,” said Motaung.

“The municipality has been struggling to pay off our invoices as quoted and we have always accepted what they have paid us according to their available budget.

“Now they are saying nothing at all. We submitted our certificate in June and we are in November now, we need that money for salaries and to pay our own service providers.

“We have been doing our job well and we expect to be paid well in return for our good service.”

He said the company fears that the long pause to the project will damage its reputation and deal a blow to future road maintenance opportunities.

Motaung added that they will not stop fighting for what they have worked for.

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