Durban - Those failing to pay for services in the uMngeni Municipality could land in hot water as the municipality intends to intensify its fight against non-payment, which will include the hiring of specialised debt collectors to recoup money.
This comes with about R220 million owed to the municipality. This money is a combination of revenue lost as a result of theft of electricity, as well as money owed for rates.
It was not immediately clear what the specialised debtors would do to recoup the money.
Tabling his budget recently, Mayor Chris Pappas said the municipality was losing R40 million each year as a result of the theft of electricity, and this would not be tolerated.
“Electricity theft remains our biggest problem. The municipality loses up to R40m a year in stolen electricity. This is electricity that we consume from Eskom, but for which there is no income because of illegal connections and bypassed meters,” he said.
He said these funds must be recouped internally as the money was not given to the municipality in the form of a grant.
“This means that there is a R40m hole in our budget every year. We will get more resolute in tackling this problem while at the same time ensuring that poor and vulnerable households are provided with assistance on application,” said Pappas.
Second to electricity theft, the mayor added, were outstanding debts that were more than R180m in outstanding property taxes, or rates. According to the mayor, these were funds owed to the municipality that should be used to deliver services.
Pappas said one method that the municipality would be implementing in the 2023/24 financial year was to acquire the services of a specialised debt collector that would pursue large sums through legal mechanisms.