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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Tshwane resident stunned by R30 000 charge, MMC reacts

Tshwane resident baffled by mammoth municipal bill sparks debate over meter tampering fines.


Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor and MMC for finance in the City of Tshwane, Jacqui Uys, has reacted to an angry Pretoria resident who took to social media with a dispute regarding a municipal account with a miscellaneous charge of nearly R30 000.

Uys said the account had a meter tamper charge that explained the exorbitant amount owed.

She said in December last year, the city had identified 8 800 prepaid meters that were no-buy or low-buy and 50 000 conventional meters with a zero reading.

“As part of Tshwane Ya Tima, we look into these meters to get them back into the payment net. The vast majority we have found are meters that have been bridged or tampered, in which case a cable rip in the meter case is performed and a fine is issued to the account,” said Uys.

She said municipal teams take pictures as proof of the bridge before taking action and the municipality was able to present this to a resident upon query.

“Residents should remember that if they have solar installations that connect to the grid they should register with the municipality to avoid being flagged for a tamper inspection.”

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She said residents querying the fee can go to municipality offices or contact relevant municipal officials.

Councillor of the Republican Conference of Tshwane Lex Middelburg said unresolved billing disputes were a major cause of frustration for residents.

“It is simply nigh-on impossible to resolve any billing dispute with the city.

“The officials are empowered not to resolve issues within the framework of the Tshwane Ya Tima campaign to drive up the rate of collections,” he said.

Middelburg said the number of disputes that reached him as an opposition councillor had increased sharply over the last two years as residents were forced to pay money to the city they didn’t owe.

He said only a few disputes were resolved because the city had no dispute resolution mechanism.

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“The same persons who bill you are tasked to resolve your disputes while they are measured against a KPI of the rate at which they collect debtors,” he said.