‘Joburg ignored offers to settle billing crisis’

2012-02-22 15:09

National Consumer Commission (NCC) head Mamodupi Mohlala says the City of Johannesburg ignored arbitration and dispute resolution offers to help settle the municipality’s billing crisis.

The City wants the National Consumer Tribunal – a separate entity from Mohlala’s NCC – to set aside 45 compliance notices issued against it last year by Mohlala’s commission.

Mohlala’s commission received 450 complaints on Johannesburg’s billing crisis and the municipality was slapped with 45 compliance notices with penalties of R15 million.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National Consumer Tribunal hearings today, Mohlala said the City of Johannesburg should not thumbsuck bills.

“Figures must be based on accurate estimates and there must be a reasonable basis for the estimate,” she said.

City of Johannesburg representative Advocate Michelle le Roux told the tribunal, chaired by Professor Tanya Woker, that the compliance notices were invalid because of the procedure followed by Mohlala’s commission in issuing them.

The municipality argues the billing crisis falls outside the ambit and jurisdiction of the Consumer Protection Act.

The city previously said the compliance notices related to complaints it was already resolving at the time the compliance notices were issued.

Le Roux said estimating bills was a practice among most South African municipalities and that the NCC’s compliance notices should be issued for all municipalities.

The hearing continues tomorrow.

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