03 Nov 2021

Successful appeal dismissed in the Supreme Court of Appeal: eThekwini Municipality and the Stellenbosch Municipality against the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa

by Nerisha Besesar, Partner, Durban, Willie Coetzee, Consultant, Durban,
Practice Area(s): Litigation |

Shepstone and Wylie are pleased to report that earlier today, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal instituted by the eThekwini Municipality and the Stellenbosch Municipality launched against its client, the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) relating to a dispute arising from the eThekwini Municipality’s adoption of municipal rates policies with costs.


ISASA is the oldest and largest membership body of independent schools in South Africa. It serves at least 850 membership schools from different socio-economic and cultural communities, all of which are public benefit organisations (PBOs).  The dispute spanned just over a decade and saw the Ministers of Finance and Co-operative Governance being joined as parties given the intergovernmental issues raised by the eThekwini Municipality.


The crux of the matter centered around whether the eThekwini Municipality was obliged to recognise PBOs in its rates policies as a category which would benefit from a rates rebate of not more than 25% of rates imposed on residential property. The eThekwini Municipality had elected not do for the financial year commencing in 2009 and sought to impose rates on independent schools as if they were commercial entities.


Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Appeal unanimously held that the eThekwini Municipality may not levy rates against properties owned by public benefit organisations in the excess of the 25% of rates levied on residential properties with effect from 01 July 2010 onwards.


The team was led by Willie Coetzee and included partner, Nerisha Besesar, as well as counsel, both Advocate Dodson SC and Advocate Michael Mbikiwa.


The full judgment and media summary can be found here: http://supremecourtofappeal.org.za/index.php/component/jdownloads/summary/35-judgments-2021/3695-ethekwini-municipality-and-another-v-independent-schools-association-of-southern-africa-and-others-960-2019-2021-zasca-155-3-november-2021