Pretoria – City Power embarked on a aggressive three-day revenue collection by cutting off electricity in an effort to recoup some of the billions owed by residents and businesses in Johannesburg.
The campaign started on Tuesday and focused on Alexandra township and its surrounding areas.
According to the City of Joburg, Alexandra’s electricity debt is over R360 million.
To kick off the the operation, the power utility visited big businesses in Alexandra, Sandton, Wynberg and Kew.
On Wednesday, the team went to the Nigerian consulate offices and cut of its electricity as they had an outstanding bill of R600 000.
A local church was also disconnected for owing the utility about R750 000.
“This church is illegally connected to the grid and its stealing electricity further exacerbating our problem of revenue collection and protection,” said City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena.
Mangena and the team also made their way to The Catalyst hotel in Sandton, where electricity was disconnected as it was believed that the hotel owed City Power R2.3m.
However, the hotel wrote to News24 saying that they were erroneously disconnected.
News 24 cited the hotel saying it has been in communication with City Power to correct the inaccurate billing and incorrect backdated recalculations.
The hotel's power was subsequently restored.
An Engen filling station in Alexandra also felt the wrath of the utility when its power was cut off.
After power was disconnected, the owner spoke to The Citizen outside his petrol station and said he has proof that he has been paying and his business is not illegally connected.
“I know in the area there’s a lot of illegal connections and perhaps people living behind the service station could have done some illegal connection, but obviously we would not do things like that. We are going to City Power (to) show them our bills and show the payments we have been making,” he said.
Mangena said that they would continue the blitz every month as there was R4 billion which was owed by its customers.
“We are under pressure in terms of finances and we are suffering in terms of the service delivery that we are supposed to be providing ...We need to ensure that we use that money for maintenance of our infrastructure,” he said.
Mangena said they haven’t calculated how much they have managed to recoup as customers were still paying.
“The drive was to collect about R360m, we believe we are half way there because most businesses that we cut, they came through and paid. One college paid R1m on the spot.”