Raquel Fortune, from Florida North, said she was made to sign an acknowledgement of debt (AOD) under “duress” by a city official over an erroneous R171 000 bill.
Fortune’s billing problems started in 2008 when she started receiving inflated bills.
“I was receiving escalated bills and wrong bills; my payments would vanish, then resurface. Then when I didn’t pay and asked them to rectify it, I would get disconnected, then charged R900 for reconnection,” said Fortune.
The City of Joburg told her she was being charged for her old meter and new meter. She said after being sent from pillar to post fighting to have her bill rectified at its offices in Braamfontein, she ended up being allocated a city attorney called Mr Tuwani to assist her with paying a monthly instalment of R1730.19.
“He told me the best he could do was to get me to sign an AOD because, if I didn’t, I would get disconnected. So I signed the AOD, obviously being under duress, and then I was told my bill was being investigated.
“When nothing was happening, after back-and-forth emails to various people at the city, I received a credit of about R68 000.
“I was told they had credited me because they had noted estimates were incorrect, but I must just accept the (outstanding) R102 000 and pay it.
“I was told to continue to pay this bill and I have already paid it down to about R75 000. I am struggling to pay it on top of my monthly consumption, which resulted in my November bill being paid a day late, which resulted in my AOD being increased to R2261.71.”
She said this had caused her high blood pressure and depression.
Kutlwano Olifant, spokesperson for MMC for Finance Funzela Ngobeni, said the client was in receipt of an extended social package (ESP) of 30 kilowatt hour, meaning that the billing of 30kWH was deducted from monthly usage effective from July 2017.
The client usage is above the provided social package, which results in an average monthly bill of R1485.28.
“The electricity meter billing from April 1, 2015 and meter reading of 41.417kWH as at January 3, 2019 suggests that the 30-day average usage is 900kWH. The average electricity bill per month is R1485.28 excl.
"From the account analysis it is confirmed that the billing on the account is correct and that the average monthly billing on the account is R2760.50,” said Olifant.