OVERCHARGED: Margaret Mackay, 58, is one of many Bonteheuwel residents handed extremely high water bills.
Cape Town - Water bills in Bonteheuwel have spiked, seemingly overnight, from R50 to R5000 for some residents, while others have been hit with amounts of up to R110 000, which residents said was being blamed on alleged water leaks.

Pensioners and mothers who have received excessive water bills gathered at the Civic Centre on Thursday to air their grievances with ward councillor Angus McKenzie, and said their climbing bills were draining their pensions and income, and needed to be addressed.

The spike in bills comes days before the water tariff increase of approximately 10.10% takes effect on July 1.

“Everyone can’t have leakages on their property, as it’s more than half of Bonteheuwel who are experiencing increased water (charges),” said resident Faldiela Abrahams. “All these ladies here have problems. First of July the tariff is going up again. What’s going to happen to us, what happens when they don’t find leakages, who is liable to pay that money?”

Margaret Mackay, 58, whose bill came in at R110 044, despite having a new smart water management device fitted in January, received a disconnection warning and was told by staff at the Civic Centre that she should have her Sassa money diverted to her municipal account to pay her bills.

“We have an outside toilet but that’s free water. It’s just myself, my son and my two grandchildren,” she said.

Mckenzie said it was mind-blowing to see that households with two or three people were using so much water a month, which he said could be due to incorrect readings or leaks.

He resolved to find out if leakages were occurring, and if so to fix them. If incorrect readings were at play, people would be reimbursed for the excess amount they paid.

City officials said they were looking into the complaints about the bills, and would respond later.

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Cape Argus