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Durban - The eThekwini Municipality was cracking the whip on water losses across the city and was aggressively targeting water thieves, with the effects of this strategy already bearing fruit, the human settlements and infrastructure committee was told on Tuesday.
A report presented to the committee revealed that the city had recovered more than R5.5 million in revenue based on prosecutions for water theft alone as of January 20.
Water inspectors employed by the city last year to trace more than 40 000 households that had been stealing water recovered R641 250 in meter connection fees.
The city said non-revenue water had increased in volume from 35.4 percent in the 2011/12 financial year to 37.3 percent in the past financial year.
The city’s water loss was also flagged in the latest auditor-general’s report that cited water losses at R513m, contributing to the municipality’s failure to achieve a clean audit report for the sixth time in a row.
In March 2010, to curb spiralling water losses, the municipality implemented a water amnesty for homeowners who were connected illegally.
The scheme sees their connections reinstated, provided they contact the municipality before it discovers the illegal connection.
Since then, city figures show 2 616 residents had applied for amnesty by January 20. A total of 2 565 water connections had been completed during this time with the total value of fines at R23 050.
The response from residents to the amnesty had not been as “enterprising” as expected.
Nigel Gumede, chairman of the committee, was pleased the city was able to recoup cash from the amnesty and crackdown.
“It was bad debt we were going to write off. Through the scheme we recovered something. That is better than nothing at all.”