Woman washing hands. File Picture: Leon Lestrade.
Woman washing hands. File Picture: Leon Lestrade.

Msunduzi Municipality has reached crisis point in its losing battle against the theft of water, electricity

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Sep 15, 2021

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DURBAN - THE theft of water and electricity has reached a crisis point for Msunduzi Municipality, with the municipality admitting it is losing the battle against the thieves.

Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla revealed that the theft was widespread, and that both residents and businesses were equally to blame.

Thebolla was addressing a breakfast meeting yesterday where he provided an update on the progress his administration has made in improving the municipality. He detailed the achievements, including managing the landfill site, improving cleanliness in the city, and installing water and road infrastructure.

Opposition parties said the city had made no effort to clamp down on the theft, saying it was ironic that service delivery was lacking in areas where the ruling party got most of its votes.

Thebolla said that while the city had taken steps to address the issue of theft, the problem had not disappeared.

“It is no longer a secret that there are households and businesses that are blatantly stealing both water and electricity through either bypassed meters or direct connections, and in some instances the municipality disconnects them only for them to illegally reconnect themselves.”

He said the municipality had taken steps to curb the behaviour, including getting assistance with meter audits and other significant credit control matters.

Thebolla also touched on the challenges of ageing infrastructure, saying the municipality would not despair as it worked to address the challenges.

“Vandalism of critical infrastructure, such as at the Eastwood Substation – which was on its way to being commissioned – tends to water down our developmental efforts,” said Thebolla.

Speaking on the municipality’s financial state, he said that it was improving.

“Our revenue collection has significantly improved as more and more citizens see value in paying for the services received,” said Thebolla.

Opposition parties said the municipality’s failure to address theft was due to lack of effort.

ACDP councillor Rienus Niemand, who has been calling for action to be taken to address the theft, said the municipality had not done anything to curb it.

“The only thing they have done, which is a joke, they went to the DBSA (Development Bank of SA) and borrowed millions of rand that they are going to use to conduct a study to find out where the theft is occurring, yet there is a report which shows exactly where the theft is occurring,” said Niemand.

He said the municipality was losing R3 million a day due to theft.

DA councillor Sibongiseni Majola echoed the same sentiments, saying the current leadership was not committed.

“They are using this as a campaigning tool and would not want to alienate their constituency,” Majola said.


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