Joburg res­i­dent still drown­ing in R66 000 bill for wa­ter

The Sunday Independent - - News - ROLAND MPOFU

A Joburg res­i­dent whose woes re­main un­re­solved in spi­teof in­ter­ven­tions and prom­ises from the City of Joburg’s MMC for fi­nance, said he is wor­ried his home will be auc­tioned “due to the mess” af­ter re­ceiv­ing a wa­ter bill of more than R66 000 last month be­cause of a faulty me­ter.

Kee­nen Whit­taker from Marais­burg is one of sev­eral res­i­dents who ap­proached The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent about re­ceiv­ing in­ac­cu­rate bills from the city.

Af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of Whit­taker’s plight, MMC Fun­zela Ngobeni in­ter­vened and vis­ited Whit­taker at his res­i­dence and promised to en­sure that his faulty me­ter was changed.

But three months later, Whit­taker said he was shocked and dev­as­tated when his wa­ter bill for May came back re­flect­ing that he owes the City R66 798.78.

“I am just ner­vous that my prop­erty will be auc­tioned due to this mess. I am wor­ried that they will come and do il­le­gal cuts.

“Deal­ing with the city is a to­tal night­mare be­cause your ac­counts are never sorted. (They is­sue) in­cor­rect billings each and ev­ery month. No one takes ac­count­abil­ity.

“I am very frus­trated. “The ridicu­lous pre-ter­mi­na­tion and ter­mi­na­tion charges are af­fect­ing me very badly,” said Whit­taker.

Last month, af­ter his 2018/19 bud­get speech, Ngobeni promised that the billing queries would be­come a thing of the past as his depart­ment was to “turn the tide” in the bat­tle to re­duce the large num­ber of billing -re­lated queries.

But clearly this hasn’t hap­pened for Whi­takker.

In May, he sent a scathing let­ter to the City of Joburg try­ing to find res­o­lu­tion to the mat­ter.

“I am re­ally try­ing my level best to be pro­fes­sional with re­gards to this very un­com­fort­ably long-out­stand­ing mat­ter. Af­ter all my ef­forts, I’m still left in the dark and noth­ing seems to move, which re­ally leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

“Look at the at­tached ac­count. How is it pos­si­ble to bill me for wa­ter on es­ti­mated read­ings? This wa­ter me­ter is out­side the gate but we re­ceive es­ti­mated read­ings and yet they are so high.

“How is it ex­pected from me to pay such a huge amount? Please look at my pre­vi­ous month (wa­ter state­ment); you will no­tice that my wa­ter bill doesn’t even reach the ‘es­ti­mated amount’.

“This is to­tal and com­plete mad­ness. Look at the at­tached ac­count that re­flects a to­tal amount for this month of R66 798.78. How is this pos­si­ble?” he asked.

In re­sponse to ques­tions, spokesper­son for the MMC, Kutl­wano Oli­fant, said: “An of­fi­cial within Group Fi­nance Depart­ment in the City, was as­signed with Mr Whit­taker’s ac­count since May 2018.

“We have en­coun­tered sev­eral is­sues on his ac­count, which the depart­ment has es­ca­lated to rel­e­vant en­ti­ties (City Power and Joburg Wa­ter) for a res­o­lu­tion.

“We can con­firm that since May, our of­fi­cial has con­stantly up­dated Mr Whit­taker about the query.

“We un­der­stand Mr Whit­taker’s frus­tra­tion as we are do­ing our ut­most to as­sist him and clients who find them­selves in such sit­u­a­tions.”

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