Cape Town - Angry Cape Town residents have taken to social media to voice their frustration over restructured electricity tariffs which they say are unaffordable and unreasonable.
The City of Cape Town introduced new electricity tariffs from July 1, distinguishing between Lifeline tariffs one and two, as well as a domestic tariff for residents with properties valued at more than R400 000.
The Facebook group, Electricity Tariffs Must Fall, which began in November 2016, has amassed more than 14 000 members.
The group's founder, law student Natasha Selbourne Gertse, said the City did not consider certain circumstances when introducing the tariffs, including people residing in rented property and those who have inherited their property.
“Why does the house value determine the highest tariff if the house is not owned? How can people be regarded as rich when they're paying off a 20-year bond or if they're renting?” she asked.
Gertse said the new tariffs were making it even more unaffordable for ordinary residents to afford their own homes. “Many can't afford a house and forking out more money on electricity every month puts them further from that goal,” Gertse said.
According to the new tariff structure, a household with an average usage of 250kWh a month falls under Lifeline tariff 1 and receives 60 free units. Households using between 250 and 450kWh fall under Lifeline tariff 2 and receive a free 25 units a month.
Users of more than 450kWh fall under the Domestic tariff provided that their property is under R400 000. However, households who own property under R400 000, but use more than the average amount of electricity for the respective lifeline tariffs, get switched to the domestic tariff.
According to mayoral committee member for finance, Johan van der Merwe, the City supplies electricity to approximately one million customers across a wide spectrum of economic circumstances.
“As such it is impossible to find a one-size-fits-all tariff. There may be isolated cases where residents staying in property valued over R400 000 qualify as indigent. In such cases residents should approach their nearest municipal office with proof of household income.
“Those with combined household income of less than R4000 a month can still qualify for the Lifeline tariff,” he said.
“It is unreasonable to say that someone either owning or renting a property valued at more than R400 000 lacks the basic necessities of life."
Eastridge resident Abdiha Wentzel, 55, said although she received free 25kWh units, she still spent too much on electricity each month. Wentzel said there were many times she had to borrow money to have electricity for the whole month.