Anger over Tshwane push to recoup R17bn from defaulters
Pretoria – Many Tshwane residents who are in trouble for owing the municipality R17 billion collectively for defaulting on payments of rates and taxes have pleaded poverty.
This comes after the metro announced this week that it would embark on a drive to recoup billions of rand it was owed by defaulting customers with effect from March 1.
The announcement has since elicited anger among many residents, who took to social media to condemn the imminent move to collect debts.
The City said it would recoup money owed to it by disconnecting conventional meters and blocking prepaid meters of defaulting customers.
City spokesperson Selby Bokaba said the blocking of prepaid meters would be executed in such a way that when customers purchased electricity tokens, at least 60% of the purchase amount would be deducted.
The amount would be part payment towards the debt and the remaining 40% would go towards the actual purchase of electricity tokens.
Bokaba said the action would continue for all subsequent purchases until such time that the debt has been settled in full.
Residents, however, questioned the timing by the municipality, citing that it was done during the Covid-19 period when thousands of people were out of jobs due to the pandemic impact on the economy.
One of them, Sedi Maakane, berated the DA-led municipality for wanting to act against defaulters, who didn't have an income.
He suggested that the electorate must use their votes during the upcoming municipal elections to elect a new administration.
"So (this is happening) during Covid-19 (when) people have lost jobs and income. Well done guys. (I) can't wait for the elections," he said.
Judith Sehlangu from Bronkhorstspruit proposed that the City must write off debt for all residents so that they can start with a clean slate.
"Where are the meter readers in Bronkhorstspruit? It's almost three years without (meter) readers and you expect us to comply while you failed (on) your obligation. Do the right thing by writing off those debts and we will comply," she said.
Koketšo Mabula said: "I think it’s high time that you go door-to-door because there are people who have bridged their electricity. This is not going to help at all because there are people who don't buy electricity or pay their water bill at all."
Others expressed disappointment about inaccurate municipal bills to residents and the fact that City officials were quick to disconnect those who were not paying.
The City said it would target defaulting customers on municipal services such as rates and taxes.
MMC for Finance Mare-Lise Fourie urged residents to heed the credit control measures to help the City turn around its finances.
“A communication informing residents to conclude arrangements will be drafted and circulated via various City communication platforms. Residents will also be encouraged to register their queries through the Customer Care platform to ensure the escalation process is applied.
“The City buys electricity from Eskom and water from Rand Water and also has the responsibility to maintain its infrastructure in addition to collecting refuse and other services, and without payment of municipal accounts all these services will grind to a halt,” she said.
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