Ibrahim Hendricks, 55, lives in an RDP house with his daughter and a grandchild of preschool age.
As a person living with disability, he said he had not received any water bills from the municipality from the day he moved in 2014, to January last year.
“When the bills began coming through in January last year, I received a tax invoice of R150 per month.
“Things began to change for the worse in October when the water bill shot up to R1077.02,” he said.
On querying, Hendricks found that his arrears amounted to only R66.47, but the city estimated water use of 131578kl for the household when in fact it was only 12.495kl.
In November last year, Hendricks received an invoice for R595336.39.
The city estimated 972000kl water usage. When he called the city water department’s call centre to query the bill, he was informed that actual meter readings were carried out towards the end of 2017 and again in October last year.
He was also told that the city’s systems had recorded that an old meter was replaced in April last year, but that details of readings of the old meter and details of the new meter had not been recorded.
Meanwhile, in June last year the city’s tariffs increased by 10.1% for lower-band water users. This meant that households like Hendricks’s using fewer than 6000 litres per month would pay R28.90 per kilo litre.
The current invoice for water usage by the Hendricks household of three stands at R615 912.60, and Hendricks has received a letter from the City informing him that his water is to be cut off. According to the city’s website, meters are read each month using a hand-held device that contains relevant information about each property.
The city council says bills are only estimated when the meter reader cannot access the property.
In such cases bills are estimated on previous water use.
The city council advises that if a water meter is not regularly read, or is malfunctioning, the best thing to do is contact the city’s 24-hour call centre.
Hendricks said he had called the centre and logged his complaint, but to no avail.
The mayoral committee member for water and waste, Xanthea Limberg, said: “The city is investigating the issue and has been in contact with Mr Hendricks. The customer was advised that a lock had been placed on the system for his account while the investigation is underway, to prevent debt action.”
“The city is awaiting formal feedback from the technical team that attended to this issue, but provisional feedback is that the account will be adjusted given the specific merits of this case.”@TheCapeArgus