News / South Africa

Zita Goldswain
2 minute read
13 Jul 2018
1:51 pm

Witbank municipality ‘squeezing’ residents for every last cent

Zita Goldswain

Despite the icy cold weather, residents were hot under the collar after receiving a second municipal account hot on the heels of their June accounts.

Picture: Moneyweb

Despite the icy weather, residents were hot under the collar after receiving a second municipal account hot on the heels of their June accounts, Witbank News reports.

The municipality reportedly denies there was a problem with their billing system.

READ MORE: No more pennies in Mpumalanga municipal coffers

“The municipality has had a backlog on providing accounts since the implementation of the Municipal Standard Chart of Accounts. In order to catch up and be on par in relation to municipal accounts we were compelled to issue two service accounts. After this process all our billing will be in accordance with municipal policy,” municipal spokesperson Kingdom Mabuza said.

“We had teething problems when we started with this system in July and August. The service provider was engaged on a number of issues that were still outstanding. Today we can confidently say most of the issues have been resolved, and we commit in ensuring that our service are the best. That is why we issued a notice in Witbank News last week that anyone with challenges should come forward.”

The Municipal Systems Acts clearly steers municipalities in the direction of how billing should be done.

The act stipulates that the municipality must ensure those liable for payments receive regular and accurate accounts that indicate the basis for calculating the amounts due.

The municipality fell very short of this act. Residents have been receiving inaccurate accounts, and in the early stages of the implementation of the new financial system, they did not even receive an account.

Secondly, the municipality must provide accessible mechanisms for those persons to query or verify accounts and metered consumption, and appeal procedures that allow such persons to receive prompt redress for inaccurate accounts.

This is the layout residents got on their municipal accounts a year ago.

Contact numbers and emails of municipal workers who are supposed to help consumers were posted all over social networks. However, Witbank News phoned all the numbers provided and not one telephone was answered.

Witbank News also sent 11 consumer accounts to the municipality in an attempt to help residents rectify their accounts. This was done two weeks ago, a reminder was emailed, but up to date there has been no response from the municipality. This is not in line with the guidelines set out in the Municipal Systems Acts.

In the meantime, residents are desperately trying to make sense of the accounts they have received, and on the municipal side, it is allegedly a shrug of the shoulders and ‘sorry, you have to pay’.

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