Joburg family’s water, power supply cut off over R115k ‘bill’

Larry Friedman’s bill mysteriously rose from R1 746.67 to R112 206.81 between November 2016 and January 2017.

The City of Joburg  claimed a Fairland’s family owed R115 000 for water use for a single month – and cut off their power supply.

On March 1, the city had already cut off Larry Friedman’s water supply, but quickly reconnected it following an enquiry by The Citizen.

Both cut-offs were instituted although there had been a site inspection by city officials, who found abnormal consumption for December and confirmed there was a leak on the city’s meter.

City spokesperson Kgamanyane Maphologela earlier explained that the council owned the water meter and the supply from the street to the water meter.

The Friedmans own the pipe from the water meter into the property.

In January, Friedman’s closing balance for water use in November was R1 746.67.

In December, it mysteriously escalated to R116 106.81 and then rose to R132 425.96.

On January 17, the family received a pre-termination letter from the City of Joburg, claiming the outstanding amount was R112 206.81 and threatening that failure to settle the balance would result in “disconnection or restriction of services or legal action being instituted against yourself without any notice”.

In one of numerous e-mails sent to the city, Friedman said: “Once again someone has now come to my house and cut off my electricity. Not sure if they have cut the water as well.

“As I have stated so many times, this problem is not mine but that of City of Joburg water department. However, this [has] now escalated to them cutting off my electricity as well.

“As this is an ongoing issue or dispute with the City of Joburg, there is no reason that my services should be cut.”

On Tuesday, mayor Herman Mashaba’s spokesperson said the matter was referred to the member of the mayoral committee for finance “under which the billing falls and we were completely unaware that this family’s electricity has been cut off.

“We will urgently look into it and follow up with relevant departments.”

Despite an urgent instruction to reconnect the electricity as the account has been flagged until May, power had not been restored by the time of going to print last night.

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