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Restoring Dignity

Msunduzi ratepayers association enlists SAHRC over illegal disconnections

30 May 2022

A Pietermaritzburg residents and ratepayers body has approached the South African Human Rights Association (SAHRC) over Msunduzi’s ongoing billing issues.

According to the letter of complaint from the Msunduzi Association of Residents Ratepayers and Civics (Marcc), the municipality has allegedly violated the Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000 in respect of illegal disconnection of water and electricity of local residents.

Chairperson of Marcc, Anthony Waldhausen, said that different areas throughout Pietermaritzburg were affected by this. “I have about 42 e-mails from residents who are querying their billing including illegal disconnections by the municipality.

Waldhausen: said: “We would like the SAHRC to treat the complaint as urgent as the municipality is continuing to disconnect residents illegally and residents are the ones suffering.”

He also added that he had received acknowledgement from the SAHRC and that the matter would be submitted to a legal team.

SAHRC’s Advocate Lloyd Lotz also confirmed that they received a letter of complaint from the chairperson of Marcc saying it would be dealt with in accordance with the commission’s complaints handling processes.

“It is currently in the registration and assessment process. Thereafter it will be forwarded to our legal unit for consideration.

“Note further that the commission is concerned by the increase in service delivery related complaints against Msunduzi Municipality,” said Lotz.

Meanwhile, Msunduzi Municipality’s spokesperson Ntobeko Mkhize said that there was a query tracker of all queries submitted by Marrc. She said it contained a total of 36 queries and of those 36 queries, 21 had been resolved while 15 remained in progress.

Mkhize said:
“It must be noted what whilst disputes are lodged on accounts, payment may not be withheld under any circumstances.”

According to the municipality, in respect of the proposed repayment period, there was a proposal that was approved by the executive committee and full council for the residential debtors to pay 20% deposit and the balance over a period of 12 months, whilst business debtors had to pay 30% deposit and the balance over a period of six months.

“Debtors with disputes are encouraged to complete the required dispute form clearly indicating what is being disputed and how much in terms of rand value. The residents are encouraged to allow the meter readers access to their properties to ensure timeous reading of their meters and to ensure accurate billing more especially since we are heading into the winter months and there is normally higher than normal electricity usage during winter month,” said Mkhize.

She said Msunduzi would continue to enforce the credit control policies and residents with accounts in arrears would not be able to avoid disconnections unless they came forward to make payment arrangements and honour those arrangements.

Source: News 24

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