Electricity cut off: woman takes council to court

2010-10-13 00:00

A WOMAN who was allegedly granted indigent status by Msunduzi Municipality when she fell into arrears with electricity payments last year is fighting for reconnection in court.

Her electricity supply was disconnected in September and she was told there was evidence of tampering with her meter box.

Dhanroshi Manickum, who leases a flat in the Msunduzi-owned block, Waterbok, in Manor, approached the high court for an urgent interim interdict directing the municipality to restore her electricity pending finalisation of the dispute, but the matter was adjourned to October 18.

In an affidavit, Manickum said that when her electricity account fell into arrears in 2009 she successfully applied for indigent status from the municipality and was told any arrears would be waived.

She continued to make payments for electricity, but in July this year it became necessary for her to renew her application for indigent status.

She was then told the policy has changed. “Instead I was told ... that I qualified for ‘lifeline assistance’,” said Manickum.

In terms of the new policy she is obliged to repay any arrears amounts and settle the current invoice.

Manickum said that during this time her electricity was disconnected, but when she telephoned she was told it had been done “by mistake” and it was immediately reconnected.

Manickum said that on September 10 she consulted a municipal employee named “Savy” who told her to make immediate payment of R200 towards her arrears and a further R100 per month. She was also required to sign an acknowledgment of debt.

She immediately paid R300.

On September 28 — while she was not home — Msunduzi officials removed her meter box, alleging it had been tampered with.

“I state categorically I have no knowledge how a meter box works; nor do I know how to tamper with same,” said Manickum.

She also maintains that the meter box was in a locked room to which she does not have access.

Manickum said she approached various municipal officials, politicians in Cope, and her ward councillor for help, but to no avail.

She alleges that on September 29 a municipal official, “Terry”, told her: “You Manor people don’t pay your rent and now you are stealing electricity.

“You owe council thousands of rands so I will not reconnect you.”

Manickum said “Terry later told her attorney her electricity would not be restored as he had photographic evidence that her meter had been tampered with.

In order to be reconnected she has had to pay for a new meter costing R1 494,94, a connection fee of R2 794,20 and her arrears.

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