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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


City of Tshwane lays charges against homeowners for illegally reconnecting electricity

The metropolitan municipality is owed almost R300 000 in non-payment of municipal services.


The City of Tshwane has pressed charges against two residents who illegally reconnected electricity at their house in Garsfontein, according to finance MMC Jacqui Uys.

On 8 April, the city disconnected the property for non-payment of municipal services as part of the #TshwaneYaTima operation.

Almost R300 000 was outstanding, she said.

“According to our records, the last payment made by this household was in 2020. This is unacceptable as we all have a responsibility to pay for what we consume.

“The arrest of the occupants of the property followed a tip-off from a resident who suspected an illegal connection and approached the city with credible information and evidence that led to authorities taking action,” said Uys.

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She thanked concerned residents who raised the alarm, and added that active citizenry played a role in fighting crime and all forms of illegal connections.

“It is important to note that our #TshwaneYaTima revenue-collection campaign is here to stay.

“We are targeting all debtors, including residents, businesses and government departments that owe the city. We need to fight against the culture of non-payment,” she said.

“Residents who are struggling to keep up with their accounts are encouraged to approach the municipality to make arrangements and explore other options, such as applying to the affordability committee,” she said.

No control meters

Councillor of the Republican Conference of Tshwane, Lex Middelberg said it was all good and well to prosecute people who steal electricity, but asked when Uys would start focusing on the areas where electricity is stolen openly, such as in Mamelodi.

“If the MMC is going to prosecute people who steal electricity, it should prosecute everyone. There are probably thousands of cases that get away with this every day,” he said.

“At the stage, the #TshwaneYaTima campaign is aimed at improving the city’s debt story, not at addressing theft of electricity.

“Ironically, the city will save more money – and make a difference faster – by prioritising theft of electricity and prosecuting all cases than the coalition intends to do with just increased debt recovery targets.”

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Middelberg said to be able to determine where most of your theft occurs, you need to be able to take control measurements at strategic supply points.

“The coalition knows this, but for no comprehensible reason whatsoever, they have been failing to install those control meters for eight years,” he said.

“By far the most money owed was in the townships. Have you ever wondered why they only released the five wards where the most money was owed to the media last time?

“Well, that’s because 80% of the city’s debt lives in the townships, where there is no the TshwaneYaTima.”

Tshwane campaign not a solution

Political analyst Dr Benjamin Rapanyane said Covid impacted people negatively to the point of no return.

“Some lost their jobs. The #TshwaneYaTima campaign is not a solution. Instead, the municipality should work hand in hand with the citizens to try to come up with a solution that will not promote illegal connections,” he said.

Another political analyst, Piet Croucamp, said there must be some form of punishment for those who don’t pay for services.

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“If you are a government department or city council or any form of administration, you have to have a rule of the terms that services are delivered, and have the ability to [ensure] those services are just not delivered but there is compliance when individuals and companies have to fulfil the responsibility or remunerating the city for the services rendered,” he said.

Croucamp said otherwise it created a culture of non-payment.

“If you have a culture of non-payment you have a bankrupt city council which impacts the capacity of the council or administration to deliver services to those who do pay,” he said.

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