Lights out for 900 houses

2012-02-09 00:00

SOBANTU Village community went on a rampage yesterday when private contractors, sent by Msunduzi Municipality, disconnected electricity from about 900 households without consulting them.

About 30 police vehicles were sent to monitor the township so that private contractors could disconnect those owing the municipality.

Local councillor Thandi Matiwane said she had to leave her hospital bed on Tuesday when she was called to address this matter.

Matiwane said: “We were also shocked today to see so many police, but the community has a problem they are nowhere to be found and they were also so aggressive in the way they treated the community.”

She said it is not that people do not want to pay, but as they explained to the municipal manager, Mxolisi Nkosi, there are challenges in the area and they had been negotiating with the former administrator, Sibusiso Sithole, for the council to install prepaid electricity in the area.

She said those defaulting, including pensioners, can make arrangements with council because there is a problem with estimations.

“I have proof of people who bought a plot of land in late August last year and moved in their house in December but they now owe the council about R22 000,” she said.

Matiwane welcomed Nkosi’s handling of the matter and said she is looking forward to engaging with him on the issues affecting Sobantu.

She said this issue is complex because the community and the council need to sit down to come up with a solution. Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said the credit control policy of the municipality applies to all areas within the municipality, and enforcement therefore, will equally apply to all areas.

“Unfortunately for Sobantu, it was their turn this time. The municipality is owed more than R10 million in Sobantu alone,” he said. He said the contractors that went out to disconnect, were doing so on instruction as the municipality was enforcing the credit control policy. “They were given a list of disconnection to implement, and people who are up to date with their payments, and those that made arrangements and never defaulted, were not affected by this,” he said.

Zuma said in the case of pensioners, council has a lifeline tariff policy which caters for people who cannot afford that much.

“If a pensioner has not applied, they cannot benefit. So they will be affected by the disconnection if they are not up to date,” he said.

He said they have been given an instruction to re-connect this afternoon to allow for engagements with the councillor and the community.

“Only five days will be allowed for this. In that time we ask people to update their accounts, or make arrangements to pay, and those arrangements will be in terms of the Credit Control Policy,” he said.

Zuma said it is important for people to understand that if Council does not collect, it will not be able to deliver services.

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