Joburg to stop unfair cut-offs
Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg said on Monday that it would suspend disconnections if residents could prove that they had been over-billed.
"If the city finds or is presented with evidence to suggest that specific accounts are inaccurate or problematic, on a case-by-case basis it will suspend cut-offs until the issue is resolved," said spokesperson Stanley Maphologela.
Protesters, led by DA councillor David Dewes, handed over a memorandum of demands to a representative of the city's finance department on Friday.
The small group of residents danced and sang outside the city's customer service centre in Braamfontein.
They were protesting about over-billing, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of rands, followed by disconnection if the bills were not paid.
Maphologela said the city's receipt of the memorandum proved its commitment "to listen to the views of our residents and to respond to issues they raise".
"We will also keep residents updated on the steps taken to correct problems."
Lombardy East resident Evert Kleynhans said he received a bill for R35 000 last year. When he didn't pay it the municipality cut off his electricity.
"Because the electricity was cut off, my automated gate stopped working. I was hijacked the one night while getting out of my car to open the gate manually."
Roodepoort resident Mike Naidoo said he received a bill that began at R15 000 late in 2009 and eventually accumulated to R197 000 this month.
"I have complained so much to the city that I now have 17 reference numbers, where do I go from here?" he asked.
Martini Marica, a Kensington resident, said she received a bill for R28 000 in September last year.
"I went to my husband and I said 'Is this a joke?'. I carried on paying every month what we usually paid which was about R800 but then in January I got a bill for R48 000."
Maphologela said the city had implemented a "proactive process of calling customers in an attempt to resolve their queries".
The city also promised that it would give feedback "on how the matter is being investigated and how it will be resolved" to any residents who lodged complaints.
It remained "open and willing to talk to all our citizens on billing and other relevant city matters".
This said, the city reminded residents that collecting revenue was a critical task in maintaining a functional city.
"Accounts that are unpaid or in arrears put an unfair strain on the city and its loyal paying residents," said Maphologela.