130115. Cape Town. Numsa and civil society coalition on Monday protested against Eskom's proposed 16 percent electricity increase outside a public hearing at the CTICC in Cape Town. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Pretoria - The High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday authorised a picket planned by the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) to protest the proposed 16 percent electricity tariff hike.

The Tshwane Metro Council refused permission for a night vigil outside the offices of the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) in Madiba (Vermeulen) Street in the Pretoria city centre on Wednesday night.

Judge Ferdi Preller however granted permission for a picket outside Nersa's offices on Thursday, when the new tariff would be announced.

The city opposed Numsa's application to hold a night vigil, arguing that public safety was at risk.

Conditions laid down by the court for the gathering included that it had to be peaceful, and that traffic should not be disrupted.

Preller made it clear that the police would be entitled to disperse the gathering if Numsa failed to comply with all the conditions. This included proving that they had taken out public liability insurance, and provided the city with an indemnity form.

Numsa abandoned its plans to erect a marquee in the street outside Nersa's offices after the judge expressed concern that the rights of people living in the area would be violated.

Protesters would still gather at Nersa's offices on Wednesday evening to light candles and sing, before moving to the Central Methodist Church in the city centre for an inter-denominational service at 7.30pm.

The vigil would continue throughout the night with a cultural program, music, poetry, and testimonies until 6am on Thursday.

Union members would picket outside Nersa's offices from 10am on Thursday.

Preller remarked he “did not like the electricity tariff increase either” and “fully supported the sentiments of the applicant (Numsa)”.

“I think they should stop paying bonuses to people and do their jobs. I've had a couple of electricity cuts over the past few days, which is most annoying,” he added. - Sapa