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Durban - Several home owners at a Hillcrest complex did a double-take when they opened their eThekwini municipality services account recently to see they had been double-charged for September.
The exorbitant electricity bills were not as a result of the 5.5 percent electricity increase all Durban residents were levied recently but a mistake by the municipality, Jean Hunt, a resident at Hillgate in Hillcrest, told The Mercury on Monday.
“I called the municipality’s call centre to query my bill and the person who answered said they knew they had made a mistake and were trying to sort it out,” she said.
Hunt said she was told that she was expected to pay the incorrect bill, but she was not informed as to whether she would be reimbursed or if the payment would be reversed.
“It’s just not fair, but I will pay off the full amount (of about R2 400) because I don’t want to have my electricity cut off,” she said.
Tony Adams, who lives in the same complex, said after 35 years of paying his electricity bill, this was the first time he had been double-charged.
“It just doesn’t make sense. Why would the city ask people to pay a provisional account for two months? Who knows, maybe next year they will be asking us to pay for our electricity a year in advance,” he said.
The municipality did not respond to questions.
In Pietermartizburg, the Msunduzi municipality’s bungle - in prematurely charging electricity users 10 percent more instead of 7 percent for three months - has left customers waiting for their accounts to be credited and wondering when it would happen.
Municipal spokesman Brian Zuma said on Monday that the finance department was still working out how customers would be credited.
“However, no cash refunds will be made. Customers will be credited in future accounts,” he said.
DA councillor Mergan Chetty said: “The municipality was competent enough to increase the tariff, but did not have the competency to refund people as quickly as they were able to implement the increase.”
The municipality imposed a 10 percent electricity hike from July without approval from the National Energy Regulator, which only gave municipalities permission to impose a 7 percent increase.