Cradock businessman Ben Schenk – who received ‘rates accounts’ of more than R100 000 a few days after his official rates bill showed that he owed nothing to the municipality – has obtained a court order to stop the ‘electricity disconnection spree’ by the Inxuba Yethemba Municipality in Cradock.

Daily Maverick report says the Eastern Cape High Court (Makhanda) has ordered the municipality to reconnect the electricity of Schenk at his house and businesses.

Schenk is among hundreds of householders who were included in the municipality’s electricity disconnection ‘spree’ that started last week.

But he said his rates accounts were paid and up to date.

‘When my wife went to inquire about the reason for them blocking our prepaid meter, they created a new rates and taxes account. It wasn’t even printed as an account; it was just numbers printed on blank paper,’ he said.

‘The account shows nothing is owed and then suddenly the total shows me I owe more than R100 000.’

Schenk, on the other hand, said he was owed more than R100 000 for work he had done for the municipality.

Judge Thandi Norman ordered the municipality to act ‘in accordance with (its) debt collection by-law’, and reconnect the electricity at some of Schenk’s properties and unblock his prepaid meters at others.

She also ordered the municipality to start sending out monthly invoices to Schenk.

The DM report notes it was a provisional order, but parts of it came into immediate effect. The municipality will have an opportunity to oppose it.

Yesterday, the municipality had not complied with the urgent parts of the order that were supposed to be carried out with immediate effect.

‘They said I must pay and then they will pay me back, but I know I will never get my money back,’ Schenk said.

‘We are going back to Makhanda now,’ Schenk added yesterday. ‘We want them to be held in contempt of court.’

The sheriff had served the order on the municipality and the municipal manager, and, according to legal documentation, said that ‘they will discuss (the matter) with their attorneys immediately’.

Full Daily Maverick report