Power cuts, defaulting Joburg residents brace for cold winter ahead

Defaulting customers from affluent areas are set to face cold winter, as the City of Johannesburg will switch off power due to unpaid services. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso

Defaulting customers from affluent areas are set to face cold winter, as the City of Johannesburg will switch off power due to unpaid services. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso

Published Jun 18, 2024


Affluent suburbs, including Steyn City, Midrand, Lenasia, Bryanston, Blue Hills and Kyalami, are expected to bear the brunt of the cold winter as the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) confirmed that it will cut-off electricity for defaulting customers starting this week.

According to the city, customers from these wealthy areas account for close to half a billion of unpaid services. They collectively owe a staggering R464 732 136.

Director of Customer Communications for the metro’s Group Finance Department, Kgamanyane Maphologela, lamented that despite the city’s efforts in rendering essential services, customers fail to pay for services.

“The city has always consistently supplied water and electricity, as well as refuse removal to these communities. It is disappointing to establish that some communities are clearly demonstrating disregard to paying for the services rendered when they are in position to afford to pay,” said Maphologela.

He explained that the metro has constantly alluded it owes a ballooned debt of R52 billion, which has led it to clamp down on defaulting customers as it was unsustainable to provide municipal services.

“The city’s highly specialised team of debt collectors will put more attention and focus every step of the way to ensure compliance with the credit control measure. An observation has been made that some communities have adopted a trend of non-payment and disregard to all correspondence from the city, when advising property owners about the status of their accounts and pending credit control actions to be taken,” said Maphologela.

A representative from CoJ, Nyaniso Jeku, told various media outlets that unpaid services propose a financial collapse, where its suppliers will not be paid, including workers.

He said that defaulting customers are from affluent areas, which is ironic as they afford municipal services.

“When we look at the list, these are areas that should not have a problem paying the city. It is a choice that people chose not to prioritise paying for water and electricity, yet they have water and electricity unless there is load-shedding.

“The city cannot operate and function on unpaid services; it would operate at a loss because the city has operational expenditure. The city must pay its fleet. We also buy bulk water from Rand Water and electricity is supplied from Eskom, as a city we get invoiced to pay our suppliers. If services are not paid, it would be chaos,” said Jeku.

In a previous statement, City Power alerted residents that it was implementing load reduction due to extreme electricity consumption, which is detrimental to energy infrastructure. The power utility said load reduction would nudge defaulting customers to account for unpaid services, and therefore, recover billions in municipal debt.

Maphologela warned customers of these suburbs to come forward before it is too late.

“We call upon all property owners to come forward before services are terminated at their properties. The city remains open to negotiations for payment arrangements,” said Maphologela

The Star