The Right to Electricity in South Africa




Right to electricity, loadshedding, possession, spoliation, South Africa


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.


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Author Biographies

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



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Case law

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Irene Land Corporation Ltd v HTC Construction & Management CC [2004] JOL 12414 (T)

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Makeshift 1190 (Pty) Ltd v Cilliers 2020 3 All SA 234 (WCC)

Mkontwana v Nelson Mandela Municipality 2005 1 SA 530 (CC)

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Rademan v Moqhaka Local Municipality 2013 7 BCLR 791 (CC)

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Web pages

Department of Mineral Resources and Energy 2019 Integrated Resources Plan accessed 30 May 2021

World Bank 2018 Access to energy is at the heart of development accessed 30 May 2021



How to Cite

Dube, F., & Moyo, C. (2022). The Right to Electricity in South Africa. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 25, (Published 4 March 2022) pp 1 – 21.



SARChi CLES Series on Cities, Law and Environmental Sustainability

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