Municipalities grant rates and utility reprieves across the country
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Durban - Some residents and business owners will spend the lockdown period with peace of mind as various municipalities countrywide announced a payment “holiday” for the duration of the period and even beyond.
However, residents who can afford to pay for rates and services have been encouraged to do so online and at supermarkets.
Stellenbosch Municipality told residents they would not have to pay property rates between April 1 and June 30 and that interest would not be charged over the period.
“Free basic water allocation for indigent residents will be increased from six to 10 kilolitres per household from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020,” said the statement.
“A temporary suspension of all credit control measures and procedures will be implemented until the end of April 2020, meaning that all electricity meters that were blocked because of overdue accounts, will be unblocked and residents will be able to buy and upload electricity freely during this period,” said the municipality in a statement.
The municipality said the measures were meant to reduce economic pressure on vulnerable residents during the coronavirus crisis period.
Ekurhuleni Metro in Gauteng said it had offered a rental holiday to businesses who are renting council property and who would not be making an income as a result of the lockdown.
“The rental holiday will cover rental usage for 21 days of inactivity during the nationwide lockdown.
“All affected lessees are requested to contact the city with a written motivation as to why they must be granted a rental holiday,” said Ekurhuleni.
Ethekwini metro spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the city would not disconnect electricity and water supply until the end of the 21-day period for those who were owing.
City of Johannesburg spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane said people must continue to pay.
“But we are suspending credit control, which means we cannot touch you until the lockdown is done and arrears within this period are suspended; that means you won’t incur interest on what you owe for this period.
“We don’t cut services, but we encourage people to pay,” said Modingoane.
Western Cape co-operative governance and traditional affairs spokesperson James-Brent Styan said all 25 municipalities in the province had implemented various measures to assist communities.
“This process is in varying degrees of implementation across the province.
“Some of the major general interventions are increasing free basic water allocations and reconnecting electricity meters where people may have been cut off for non-payment,” said Styan.
Independent Ratepayers Association of South Africa national chairperson Izak Berg welcomed the municipalities’ decisions. He said municipalities would avoid getting a disclaimer from the auditor-general if they followed the Municipal Finance Management Act, which allowed deviation in cases of emergencies and disasters.
“Other people must also come to the party, especially your banks and landlords, and help the people for the next two or three months,” said Berg.