PRETORIA – City of Tshwane officials (COT) are out in full force to disconnect power and water supply to businesses and residential complexes owing the city millions of rand in unpaid services. The operation which began last week has been met with outrage from businesses and government institutions.
Embassies and the police headquarters in Pretoria have not been spared.
The COT is owed more than R17 billion in unpaid services. SOEs and private property owners who have defaulted on their municipal accounts are now compelled to settle their debt or face a total disconnection of utility services. The City’s spokesperson Selby Bokaba says residents are welcome to decide to settle their outstanding debt.
“There are those when we come to disconnect, they will say no wait I will make the payment. Some have made arrangements to pay but the money hasn’t shown on our account. So, we are lenient and aggressive at the same time.
“We listen to those who come forward and decide. So, when you do that you’ve to pay 50 – 60% of the overall debt and sign the payment arrangement in which to settle the outstanding amount,” says Selby Bokaba.
The Gautrain station in Hatfield is one of the businesses that have had its power and water supply cut off. However, Gautrain spokesperson Kesagee Nayager says what the city has done is illegal.
“Without any prior notice, officials from the City of Tshwane cut off the water supply to Hatfield Gautrain station claiming that it was owed approximately R10 million for services rendered to the station. The city cut off the electricity supply to the station.
“The Hatfield Gautrain station has a pre-paid electricity metre, and the account is not only up to date but is in fact in credit to the value of approximately R120 000. The water account is similarly, up to date. We have been trying without success to contact the city to provide proof of the debt it claims it is owed,” says Kesagee Nayager.
Nayager says they will approach the court for intervention.
“We are calling on the city to urgently reconnect the water and electricity supply to Hatfield station and we hope that they can obtain full statement accounts, not just a mere screengrab. In the meantime, we will be approaching the court to urgently interdict the city to restore services to the station given the wrongful termination of services to Hatfield station.”
The South African Police Service (SAPS) broadcast centre in Centurion also had its water and electricity supply cut off. However, services are continuing as normal at its Administrative Headquarters in Pretoria.
“The SAPS can confirm that the Wachthuis building is leased by the National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) for use by the Police Service. The DPWI settles the rental payment monthly to the landlords as per the lease agreement. The landlords have a responsibility to pay for municipal services, monthly. DPWI then recoups such monies from the SAPS as per the Devolution Agreement.
“The SAPS is, therefore, not in arrears with municipal services. We, therefore, take this opportunity to assure the nation that no service delivery has been affected at all its buildings and or service points,” SAPS Spokesperson, Athlenda Mathe explained.
According to City officials, government departments have not paid their debt which now stands at more than R1.3 billion, while R4 billion is owed by various businesses. Residential customers owe the city more than R8 billion in unpaid municipal services.