Business owners take city to court

2010-09-21 00:00

TWO Pietermaritzburg businesses have approached the high court in a bid to force Msunduzi Municipality to re-install electricity meters summarily removed during Operation Pitbull on August 17.

The meters were allegedly removed without explanation, despite the fact that the premises underwent regular meter readings. There was never any suggestion of meter tampering, and neither business was ever in arrears with account payments.

It is alleged in court papers that the businesses were told that if they want to be reconnected they must pay R250 000.

The case was adjourned by consent to September 30.

Zane Driemeyer, owner of TWYL Estates CC, who conducts a motor dealership from 303/5 Boom Street and leases premises in May Street to Robert Scheepers (trading as Drive Lines), said he was not present when 10 people arrived on August 17 and removed three electricity meters.

An employee, Robert Gough, was told the meters had been tampered with, but no explanation was given.

Driemeyer said that after waiting an hour at the municipal offices in Church Street, he was directed to the Havelock Road offices. From there he was sent back to Church Street where he requested a meeting with Lance Stratford, who was not available. He spoke to a person identified only as “Vinay” who told him “unequivocally” he could not do anything.

The following morning, Driemeyer said Stratford was again unable to see him as he was preparing for an Exco meeting, and he was again referred to Vinay. He asked why the municipality concluded the meters had been tampered with and was told there was photographic evidence, which he would be shown when it was available. “To this day I have heard no further word from Vinay,” he said.

Driemeyer said he has occupied the Boom Street premises for 11 years and has never been in arrears with payments.

Michelle Scheepers, a bookkeeper for Drive Lines, told a similar story. She said paying the R25 000 for reconnection “is an impossibility … given the nature and size of the business”.

The businesses have made arrangements to obtain electricity from adjacent firms.

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