Noth­ing hap­pens in the land of Parks off

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

A PRE­POS­TER­OUS let­ter of de­mand ar­rived at the Ma­hogany Ridge this week. Nkhume­leni Ra­mada, a rev­enue col­lec­tions agent with the City of Jo­han­nes­burg, writes:

“Goo­day, I have been try­ing to get through to you and I can’t be able to find you. So your ac­count is on ar­rears of R6 432.89, can you please make the pay­ment in or­der for you to avoid dis­con­nec­tion.” (sic)

In­cluded was an in­voice marked for my ur­gent at­ten­tion for rates and ser­vices pro­vided by the city for the month of May 2014. A to­tal of R11 533.15 was out­stand­ing, of which R6 433 was due last month, on June 20.

Ra­mada has some catch­ing up to do. By May this year the amount out­stand­ing was R43 731.

Which is weird, you will agree, for a prop­erty I sold back in Novem­ber 2013 when, in a fit of pas­sive ag­gres­sion, I sev­ered ties with the min­ing camp.

In fact, it is not I who owe Jo­han­nes­burg money, but Jo­han­nes­burg that owes me; de­spite the years and months of plead­ing, ca­jol­ing, sar­cas­tic let­ters, tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions that go nowhere, and what have you, they have yet to re­fund my rates clear­ance de­posit, which, with in­ter­est, is now in the re­gion of R18 000.

Now, there are those who sug­gest I should cut my losses and for­get about the de­posit. It’s a small price, they say, for peace of mind, and be­sides, Jo­han­nes­burg and all it en­tails will soon fade from mem­ory given the joys of liv­ing on the side of a moun­tain in deep fyn­bos coun­try.

Such peo­ple are per­haps in need of an en­ema. There is no peace of mind when the world class African city, as it thinks of it­self, in­sists on billing me month in and month out for ser­vices I no longer re­ceive.

I am, of course, aware of those who for a not in­con­sid­er­able fee, paid up­front and in full, will act as my proxy and some­how fa­cil­i­tate the re­cov­ery of my de­posit in a process that should take, say, no more than six months. Or there­abouts.

But I am deeply sus­pi­cious of such peo­ple. And in­sulted. How is it that they are able to get the money, but I can­not?

Per­haps they are for­mer mu­nic­i­pal or gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees who have set them­selves up to fur­ther leech off the pub­lic sec­tor. How much of the R2 000 I was quoted by one such out­fit is slipped into a brown en­ve­lope and passed over to some coun­cil flunky — not to do any­thing “il­le­gal”, mind you, just his or her job?

Be­sides, I have al­ready paid lawyers to act on my be­half and they have handed over copies of the rates clear­ance fig­ures, con­fir­ma­tion of my pay­ment and the rates clear­ance cer­tifi­cate as well as my ap­pli­ca­tion for a re­fund and bank de­tails. That’s what hap­penswhen you sell a house.

So what’s the prob­lem? I wish I knew. In July last year I re­ceived a re­ply, prob­a­bly in er­ror, to one of my emails. It had been sent to the rates depart­ment, but some­how landed up in the mayor’s of­fice where a Shane Goven­der for­warded it on to a Jimmy Mose­fowa with the in­struc­tion that he give it the re­quired “as­sis­tance and en­gag­ment”.

Mose­fowa then for­warded it on to a whole bunch of his col­leagues, say­ing, “I would ap­pre­ci­ate your ad­vice on the mat­ter.” For some un­known rea­son I was in­cluded in this email chain. Which is how I know about all this chronic buck-pass­ing.

In ad­di­tion to con­tact de­tails, Mose­fowa’s email sig­na­ture also in­cluded this al­legedly morale­boost­ing cor­po­rate hell-speak: “If you are not criti­sized, you may not be do­ing much”. (sic)

Which makes no sense. Very lit­tle does up there.

But I now have an idea why I have not been re­funded. Jo­han­nes­burg Mayor Parks Tau has been us­ing my money to shame­lessly ad­ver­tise him­self ahead of the elec­tions next month.

In the last three months he has spent more than R15 mil­lion on news­pa­per ad­verts across the coun­try in which he fool­ishly boasts of “Jo­han­nes­burg’s new eco­nomic democ­racy” and waf­fles on about “the good hands” run­ning the place.

All lies, of course But, on Thurs­day, I called them up again. Sev­eral times. The tele­phones at so-called Joburg Con­nect have the an­noy­ing habit of dy­ing half­way through the con­ver­sa­tion. This hap­pened while I was ex­plain­ing my case to Sipho. So I tried once more. I got a Thandi. She said Sipho was busy on an­other call. Could she take my num­ber and get him to call me back?

I’m still wait­ing.

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