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Local organisation threatens to shut Tshwane streets down over erroneous billing

The Lotus Gardens, Atteridgeville and Saulsville Civic Association has said they would no longer allow the City to disconnect lights and electricity to homes where people could not afford to pay required amounts. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

The Lotus Gardens, Atteridgeville and Saulsville Civic Association has said they would no longer allow the City to disconnect lights and electricity to homes where people could not afford to pay required amounts. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 13, 2022

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Pretoria - The Lotus Gardens, Atteridgeville and Saulsville Civic Association (Lasca) has threatened to shut down Tshwane if the City does not solve the billing problems frustrating residents.

Chairperson of the organisation Tshepo Mahlangu said although there was an agreement reached with senior managers and MMC for Finance Peter Sutton, officials at the bottom were not implementing it.

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He said several meetings yielded an agreement for the City to work with the community on a pilot project in Atteridgeville, where people living below the poverty line would be placed on the indigent list, and those with meagre earnings would prove how much they could afford to pay.

This was subsequent to various engagements and protest action that resulted in the organisation stating that they would no longer allow the City to disconnect lights and electricity to homes where people could not afford to pay required amounts.

Mahlangu said: “The problem right now is that the City has those contracted debt collectors who are calling people and forcing them to make payments. Meanwhile those very same people are in the process of being placed on the indigent list. That shows there is no proper implementation of agreements.

“First you have to remember that these municipal bills are illegal because by law the City is only allowed to estimate bills for three months, but these people have not done actual meter readings in years. Today we sit with many people with incorrect and erroneous bills. That is also another problem the City needs to fix.

“Another thing that frustrates us is that this programme to assist was supposed to be expanded to other areas like Nellmapius, Mamelodi, Soshanguve, Hammanskraal and other townships in the same way that prioritises working together to get people paying what they can afford.

“However, it is not effected the same way. Community leaders in those areas have come to us to complain that in their areas the programme is being spearheaded by ward councillors who are just telling people to make arrangements. That is not how this was supposed to work. They are supposed to assist people so that those who can afford to pay, and those who cannot are placed on the indigent list. All this happens while the City solves the issue of erroneous bills where small families are expected to pay as much as R200 000 due to incorrect and unfair estimates.”

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MMC Sutton had not come back to Pretoria News to give clarity on the situation at the time of going to publication.

In March, Sutton told Pretoria News that the City and Lasca found each other somewhere during engagements, and that was seen as a positive development.

He said the City had acknowledged that there was definitely legit problems in what they were raising as far as billing was concerned and in turn, they acknowledged that indeed, if homeowners had a dispute regarding their bill, be it water or electricity, they still had to pay for other services and not withhold payment because they had a dispute with a portion of their bill.

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