Umzinto’s water wars

2012-09-07 00:00

THIS week’s rain, tapped from rooftops, has given a heaven-sent respite to a complex of 30 humble homes on an Umzinto hilltop.

The homes were cut off a week ago when a meeting at the complex with a high-level delegation from Ugu District Municipality to discuss their bills flopped.

When municipal delegates heard a toilet flush, they accused the residents of connecting their water supply illegally, which body corporate chairman Raj Moodley vehemently denied.

Yesterday, the body corporate turned its battle with Ugu into a legal one, applying to the Durban High Court to have the municipality summonsed, he said last night.

Moodley said a billing problem started at the end of 2009 when their usual R5 600 bill for all 30 units combined shot up to R57 000 and a new meter went up outside the premises a few months later.

He added since having their water cut off in November last year for an unpaid bill of R200 000, the community negotiated it down to R157 000 and agreed to pay R1 500 on top of their monthly water costs pending an investigation.

“Eventually, on August 21 they disconnected the water,” said Moodley.

Right until last week’s meeting that had Mayor Ntombifikile Gumede in the municipal delegation, the body corporate had refused to sign acknowledgements of debt, he added.

However, their pleas to the municipality resulted in their water being turned on late on Friday night, he said.

“While we were in the meeting, someone went to the toilet and flushed. One of the people from the municipality asked ‘is that water I hear’?” said Moodley.

He said the mayor accused the residents of misleading her to attend a meeting.

Moodley said Gumede had made reference to Malibu Heights having been provided a slow feed of water at the beginning of the meeting.

Municipal spokesman Sipho Khuzwayo said last night he could not comment on this.

Moodley went on: “Possibly, whoever set the slow feed, gave it a full feed.”

The mayor also insisted that they were on land zoned for commercial use. Khuzwayo said body corporates were treated as being commercial entities. After the meeting, the water at Malibu Heights was once again cut off.

Khuzwayo said an illegal connection warranted a disconnection but insisted that the municipality was still open to an amicable agreement with the residents.

“However, they should now be connected as individuals rather than a group.”

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