Blind man could lose home as City of Cape Town slaps him with R88 000 water bill
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Cape Town - A blind Tafelsig father is reeling after he received a warrant of execution from the City of Cape Town threatening to take his house away from him for falling behind with his water account.
Achmat Ariefdien, 52, who has been blind since 1982, is unemployed and also cares for his 78-year-old father who has stage three cancer.
He received a bill of more than R88 000 after living in his Wolfgat New Area home, in Tafelsig, for 11 years. During that time he not received a single water account.
If the City proceeds with the warrant, Ariefdien, whose sole income is a disability grant which he uses to provide for his wife and five children who are also unemployed, risks losing his home.
“A month ago I received a letter which made me sick. I was walking in the street outside my house and someone stopped me and just put that warrant of execution in my hand and told me I must make arrangements to pay.
“In the letter they were threatening to take my assets and the house. I am totally blind. Sometimes I am forced to go out to borrow money for electricity or to put some food on the table. What must I do now?
“I want the City to help me sort out this issue in whatever way possible. A concerned neighbour, who lives opposite me and who is also facing a similar problem, introduced me to a local community activist, Paul Daniels, who said he would try to do his best to assist me,” said Ariefdien.
Daniels, who is standing for election as a councillor in Tafelsig on a Good party ticket, said he had applied to the City for a rebate, but hoped that it would scrap the warrant of execution.
“Many of his neighbours are in the same boat, and some of them don’t even earn an income of any sort,” he said.
Daniels also alerted Good’s mayoral candidate Brett Herron who has written to the City’s revenue director to request him to stop the warrant of execution.
“Access to water and basic services should never come at the cost of families losing their homes or meagre possessions.
“Instead of punishing the poor for their poverty, the City should show some empathy with the millions of people presently struggling to pay for food, let alone expensive water and electricity,” said Herron
Approached about the situation, mayoral committee (Mayco) member for Finance Ian Neilson said he was unable to comment on the issues of a specific customer because of Protection of Personal Information Act privacy requirements.
“All cases are evaluated on their own merit, and a customer’s personal circumstances are always taken into account. A person who relies on a disability grant for their income would qualify for extensive rebates on rates and tariffs.
“It is essential that they approach the City to assess their situation. The City is sympathetic to residents who are struggling, and help is available,” said Neilson.
Stop CoCT founder Sandra Dickson said: “It’s an absolute travesty that this can happen in a so-called ’well-run’ city.
“It doesn’t help that they might assist someone like Ariefdien on an ad hoc basis, because there are many more in the same boat.”