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Johannesburg - The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has accused the City of Joburg of a witch-hunt to “destabilise” the union and embarrass its leadership.

This comes after the City disconnected electricity supply to the union’s offices in the Joburg CBD.

City power technicians officially switched off the lights on Thursday, after a failed attempt by the union’s bosses to convince them that electricity has been paid.

On Friday, the City maintained that Samwu owed a whopping R1.2 million in unpaid municipal services.

However, Simon Mathe, Samwu’s secretary-general said the figure was a fabrication and the intention was to destabilise the union and to embarrass its leadership.

“They want to create a view that says we are irresponsible. It’s a witch-hunt. We have already paid the January bill. We are currently owing R38411.03.

“The union last made payment on January 28 for an amount of R13224.89. I don’t know why the City would lie to the public in this manner.”

Mathe said the union has already instructed its attorneys to tackle the matter.

“We will match them toe to toe.”

He questioned why the City would publish the details. “Is it even morally correct that details of clients should be publicised?”

Kutlwano Olifant, the stakeholder relations manager in the office of the MMC for Finance, Funzela Ngobeni, said the City’s records indicated that Samwu was issued with a pre-termination notice in December 2018, which was ignored.

Olifant dismissed any suggestion that the move to terminate electricity at the union’s offices was meant to destabilise the union or that it was politically motivated.

Olifant said Ngobeni had been on a drive to recoup monies owed to it by various companies and organisations.

Samwu, she said, had three registered accounts with the council - water and sewage, property rates and electricity.

She said the R1.2 million figure was inclusive of, “water and sanitation, which cost R156,065.98, electricity R38 411.03 and property rates R1009661.46.”

The City acknowledged the payment made by Samwu in January this year, she said.

“It must be noted that there was an outstanding balance of more than R25000 on same account after the payment.”

Saturday Star