The Johannesburg City Power will no longer be cutting off the electricity at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, which is said to owe over R40 million in unpaid electricity bills after Gauteng Health officials lodged disputes about some of the amounts owed.
A meeting between municipal and provincial government leaders resolved to keep the lights on in the meantime.
City Power said their technicians would no longer be disconnecting electricity services at any provincial hospital after City Power chief executive Tshifularo Mashava called off the disconnection of services at several hospitals, including Charlotte Maxeke to allow for the City and provincial government to find one another.
This comes as the Gauteng Department of Health disputes some of the amounts owed, including the interest preferred at Charlotte Maxeke and other provincial hospitals.
City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said Charlotte Maxeke Hospital and the South Rand Hospital's power supply was due to be cut off this week over R40 million and R3 million debts, respectively.
“The disconnection of customers over electricity debt comes as the last resort for City Power, after knocking at the doors reminding the institutions of their debt obligation.
“City Power is in the ICU in terms of its revenue, with billions of rands in the red. We are hoping that we will find each other on these debts, especially after the intervention by Co-operative Governance MEC Mr Mzi Khumalo and Finance MEC Mr Jacob Mamabolo,” said Mangena.
City Power is owed over R10 billion in unpaid electricity bills by private business, governmental institutions and residents in the Joburg region.
The organisation has been on a revenue collection drive in all regions, disconnecting services at businesses and communities that owed it staggering amounts of money.
In October, City Power also served the Helen Joseph and Rahima Moosa Hospital chief executives with notices to cut the power over R30 million debts.
Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) spokesperson Motalatale Modiba in a statement this week said it had settled several bills it owed to the City of Johannesburg, including a payment of over R32.4 million at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital for six invoices for the period April to September 2023.
“An additional invoice of R4.9 million has been finalised for payment this week, and the last invoice of R5.2 million is currently being processed for a purchase order to be created before the money is released.
“These amounts exclude interest raised as the department is of the view that the interest has been raised even on invoices that have long been settled, leading to incorrect amounts being claimed.
At the Helen Joseph Hospital, Modiba said “all invoices received totalling a principal debt of R13 million have been paid fully and received by the City of Johannesburg between August 7 and November 23, 2023”.
She said they believed the amounts had not been allocated on the municipality’s side.
“It would appear that the amounts received by the CoJ were not yet allocated to relevant invoices and accounts on time; so they can also reflect on City Power’s records which highlights some of the challenges that lead to the incorrect reflection of actual amounts owed to the CoJ, and discrepancies between the parties,” said Modiba.
Mangena confirmed City Power received a payment of R14.6 million on November 7, 2023, but said the hospital still owed R13.3 million.
The Gauteng Health Department said a debt of R4 million at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital was paid in three invoices, dated October 19 and 26, 2023.
Mangena said they had received R2 million on November 7, 2023, acknowledged a R3.9 million pending payment and said the balance at that hospital was now over R2.8 million.
This is likely to be disputed by the hospital due to the interest charges.
At the South Rand Hospital, the health department said it had been invoiced over R2 million, but said this was above “the normal charges”.
It said it was processing a payment of over R625,000.
At the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, the health department acknowledged the debt of R2.6 million and said this was being paid.
“The GDoH wishes to state that the amounts that have already been paid to CoJ from April 2023 to November 2023 continue to incur interests on the City of Johannesburg records, something which GDoH disputes.
“It is important that this issue is resolved to ensure continued collaboration in an effort to maintain the delivery of services to the people of Gauteng,” said Modiba.
They said they were committed to settling all debts, but wanted concerns to be addressed and clarified.
Mangena said they welcomed the commitment to settle outstanding amounts after the engagement with provincial officials.
Meanwhile, the department also said there was confusion about a R47 million debt at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH), saying it should be allocated to the Transvaal Memorial Institute (TMI) which used to house the erstwhile children memorial hospital (TMI).
“TMI houses a number of NGOs that are not related to GDoH except for the laundry services and a boiler house (servicing Charlotte Maxeke Hospital) which are in the same yard as the TMI, but in a different building.
“There is unfortunately one electricity meter for which GDoH cannot be fully responsible. This is a matter that requires further engagement, in terms of who is responsible for what,” said Modiba.