File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Residents end rates boycott as City of Cape Town plays ’hardball’

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Oct 23, 2020

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Cape Town – Residents under the banner of the Concerned Residents of Atlantic Seaboard will not continue with their rates boycott following what they described as “hardball” tactics by the City.

In August ratepayers from Sea Point and surrounds embarked on a partial rates boycott by withholding 50% of their rate payments after accusing the City of neglecting the area and delivering poor services.

But this week the group said the City had taken a harsh approach towards residents participating in the boycott by cutting off their water and deducting outstanding rates from prepaid electricity purchases.

“It looks like we are going to have to abort the boycott because the City is playing hardball,” said Paul Jacobson of the Concerned Residents of the Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl.

“Unfortunately, the City is being ruthless and insensitive to our demands/requests and are also affecting the service supply of all persons who are in arrears with their rates. Some residents’ water supply has been reduced to a trickle.

’’Others with prepaid electricity have had to bear the brunt of enormous deductions to offset the outstanding rates. One resident paid R200 but only received 27 units,” he said.

The next step was to research and explore alternative legal methods to challenge the City, Jacobson said, adding they would also tackle the City’s next General Valuation Roll which informs the billing of rates.

“The boycott has certainly not been in vain; we achieved much publicity and this was one of our goals. We also believe that we were influential in affecting the decision by the City to abandon the unfair water surcharge,” he said.

The group’s co-admin and lawyer, Gary Trappler, said they also looked to further apply pressure on the City through the formation of a larger group of taxpayer and residents associations to take collective action.

City chief financial officer Kevin Jacoby said the City had spent much time engaging with and addressing issues raised by some residents in areas including Sea Point.

“We have also emphasised that some of the matters raised are for the national government, these being safety and security aspects, and social development aspects, the latter also being shared by the Western Cape Government.”

The City had also done work to assist residents with the health and economic impact of the Covid-19 national lockdown with a R3.3 billion relief offering and no interest payment arrangements on a case-by-case basis.

“The City implements its Credit Control and Debt Collection Policy equally,” Jacoby said.

Cape Times

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