Liebenberg NO and Others v Bergrivier Municipality

Case No.
Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author
CCT 104/12
Western Cape High Court, 25 Aug. 2011
SCA, 1 Oct. 2012
12 Mar. 2013
6 Jun. 2013 Mhlantla AJ. 7-2

Prior to the adoption of the interim Constitution in 1993, rural landowners did not have to pay rates to municipalities.  In 1993 the Local Government: Transition Act 209 of 1993 (“Transition Act“) was enacted to provide uniformity in local government throughout South Africa, and that every part of a province should fall within the jurisdiction of a local council.  Between 2001 and 2009, various farm owners within the Bergrivier Municipality refused to pay municipal rates.  Various specific issues were raised regarding different rates imposed in different years during that period, but in essence the Constitutional Court will have to determine whether the Municipality was empowered to impose the rates at the relevant time, and if so whether the Municipality did so within its powers.

In a judgment written by Acting Justice Mhlantla, the majority of the Constitutional Court (including Chief Justice Mogoeng, Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke and Justices Froneman, Nkabinde, Skweyiya and Zondo) found that section 10G(7) of the Transition Act empowered the Bergrivier Municipality to impose the rates for the 2006/2007 and 2008/2009 financial years.  In addition the majority found that the Municipality had substantially complied with the relevant statutory provisions in respect of the rates imposed between 2001 to 2005. 

Justice Jafta wrote a dissenting judgment in which he found that section 10G could not have empowered the Municipality to impose rates between 2004 and 2009 as the section 10G had been repealed before the Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Act came into force, and that in respect of the 2002/2003 financial year the Municipality had failed to give proper notice of amendments to the rates, and so they were improperly imposed.

Justice Khampepe wrote a jugment in which she agreed with Mhlantla AJ regarding the 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 rates, but agreed with Jafta J regarding the 2002/2003 rates. In addition, she found that the rates for 2006/2007 and 2008/2009 were not validly imposed as they were not properly promulgated by pubilcation in the Provincial Gazette.

Download the judgment here.

1 thought on “Liebenberg NO and Others v Bergrivier Municipality

  1. Pingback: Applicants for Constitutional Court Vacancy | ConCourtBlog

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