Dube, F., & Moyo, C. (2022). The Right to Electricity in South Africa. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 25, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.17159/1727-3781/2022/v25ia
In this note, we examine access to electricity as a right in South African law. We also consider whether deprivations, interferences and disruptions of electricity supply are justifiable limitations of the right. While recent court decisions view access to electricity as a supplement to the Bill of Rights, judicial treatment of electricity as a right precedes the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. Prior to the adoption of the Constitution, the courts treated access to electricity as a common law right in the context of servitudes and personal and contractual rights. Under the Constitution, the right to access to electricity flows from the constitutional and statutory obligations of Eskom, South Africa’s power utility, to provide reliable electricity supply and to ensure just administrative action when taking actions that result in the deprivation of electricity. From a Bill of Rights perspective, the cases show that the right to electricity, albeit not expressed in the text of the Constitution, is a condition for the exercise of other rights, including the rights to human dignity and access to adequate housing, water and health care. We conclude that the deprivation of electricity through loadshedding and other interruptions by Eskom, landlords and body corporates are violations of the right to access to electricity. These violations could be remedied through spoliation and constitutional remedies.
Copyright (c) 2022 Felix Dube, Chantelle Moyo
Felix Dube, North-West University
Postdoctoral fellow: South African Research Chair in Cities, Law and Environmental Sustainability, Faculty of Law, North-West University
Chantelle Moyo, North-West University
PhD Researcher: South African Research Chair in Cities, Law and Environmental Sustainability, Faculty of Law, North-West University