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Randburg water bill crisis

Gasen Naicker said that the entity has threatened to cut the water to his house by the end of May.

Households in Randburg have been left baffled and frustrated after receiving outrageous water bills, some 30 times more than their usual charges. To rub salt in the wound, Johannesburg Water has threatened to cut off their water supply if they fail to settle these inflated bills.

Seelan Naidu, a resident from Ward 102, shared his ordeal, stating, “October last year I received a water bill of around R82 000 stating that I owe them. In previous months, we were averaging between maybe R2 000 and R3 000 a month.”

Despite his efforts to rectify the situation, Naidu found himself in a nightmare. “I went there [City of Johannesburg] and they provided me with a reference number, and they logged a call with Johannesburg Water to come through to review my water meter and have it replaced.”

The invoice Naicker and his wife received on October 31, for R108 650.13, which is over 30 times the amount of what they usually pay.

Gasen Naicker, another resident from Ward 102, shared a similar experience. Gasen and his wife Malini were stunned when they received a bill of R100 000 in October 2023, following a meter replacement in April. “Our meter was replaced in April last year. That’s where all this trouble started. In October, we get a bill for R100 000. That’s when we started enquiring,” Gasen said.

Despite their efforts to resolve the issue, the bills still stand. “Every month we go to the revenue department. They managed to give me a printout of a job card and the number on our account is different. So, they are using a different meter number, we raised that with them. They still haven’t helped us.”

Malini expressed her frustration, stating, “We have a family of three people. How is it possible that we can use that amount of water a month? No one wants to give us answers. No one can tell you what is going on. No one can explain because, for all we know, the meter number that has been wrong on our account all the time is where they take in the consumption readings from. It could be a business down the road.”

The invoice Naicker and his wife received on October 4, 2023 for R2 935.43, which is how much they would normally pay the City of Johannesburg.

Gasen explained, “We pay religiously. We even have a scheduled payment going through our account where we know more or less what our water bill is. We have not defaulted on a single month.”

Efforts to seek clarification from authorities have proven futile, with residents encountering a lack of accountability and clarity. Naidu summed up the frustration, stating, “They [CoJ] tell me unfortunately there’s nothing they can do. They’re waiting on Johannesburg water. Now my bill is sitting at almost R102 000, which they are now forcing me to pay and I don’t have those funds.”

Ward 102 councillor Lucinda Harman has been actively involved in advocating for residents affected by the soaring water bills. Regarding Seelan Naidu and Gasen Naicker’s cases, she stated, “I have escalated both these issues on behalf of Naidu and Naicker. I cannot enforce, instruct revenue or any entity, but I have asked for assistance.”

The residents have demanded swift action from relevant authorities to sort out their bills and restore trust in the billing system.

Questions were sent to both Johannesburg Water and the City of Johannesburg regarding the residents’ issues. Johannesburg Water spokesperson Nolwazi Dhlamini responded by directing the issue to the billing department; however, as of now, no response has been received. Efforts to obtain clarity and resolution remain ongoing. As soon as a response is received from the relevant authorities, it will be published.

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