Eastwood residents angry over water bills

2008-04-21 00:00

Disgruntled residents of Eastwood in Pietermaritzburg are upset that they have to pay for "free water" and even more upset about the absence of Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo at the Saturday meeting she had organised to discuss their issues.

"This is the second meeting that the mayor … didn’t show up for," said Chairman of the Eastwood Community Forum Fred Wagner.

For the past five years, households that generate a monthly income of less than R1 378 or their property is worth less than R30 000 have been declared indigent. These households according to law should receive the first six kilolitres of water (30 buckets) per month free. If they exceed these amounts, they should be charged R2,77 per kilolitre thereafter.

However, indigent households in the Eastwood area have been paying the same tariffs that non-indigent households pay — R20,64 for the first six kilolitres and thereafter R6,80 per kilolitre. Community member Roslyn Donnely complained that she is paying more than R300 a month for water and her household falls in the indigent category.

The Saturday meeting was led by community ward member Kehlo Dladla, but was closed to the press. During the meeting Dladla told Witness reporters that they should leave as the meeting was not about water. The Witness was unable to ascertain what was discussed at the meeting.

Bongani Mchunu, a member of the community forum, told The Witness that in a previous meetings, he was told that if he had any concerns he needed to direct them to Dwaf (Department of Water Affairs and Forestry) who would then relay them to the municipality.

"We are done with the municipality," said Wagner. He said another meeting has been scheduled for Friday with Dwaf. "We will give them 14 days to sort out the problem and if no solution has been reached we will take a memorandum to Parliament … if no progress is made thereafter the community will stage a mass protest throughout Pietermaritzburg," he said.

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