Businessman’s R400 000 power bill woe

2015-08-05 11:41


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A PIETERMARITZBURG businessman has approached the high court after failing to resolve a dispute with Msunduzi Municipality over an electricity bill of more than R400 000.

Gyan Nankan, owner of Takeshape Properties 45 CC, and a majority member of Salford Wholesalers, said in court papers he was presented with an account for R413 213,72 by Msunduzi Municipality on August 19, 2013.

This was after an inspector informed him that his business was “under-charged” for electricity usage from 2009 because the municipal meter readers were “not reading the last digit on the electricity meter”.

He was subsequently “utterly shocked” when he received the alleged “arrears” bill, which he disputes.

He is also being charged interest on the alleged “arrears” sum varying from R2 086,10 to R2 848,83 per month.

He is uncertain how this is being calculated.

He is wanting a review of the decision by the municipality that he owes the amount alleged, wants the court to order Msunduzi to reverse the ­alleged “arrears” and to interdict the municipality from disconnecting the electricity supply at the property.

Yesterday the court granted an order in terms of which Msunduzi must provide the court registrar with all tapes, transcripts, minutes and documents relating to the decision to charge Takeshape Properties’ account with the amount in question, plus interest.

Msunduzi Municipality has until August 18 to file its opposition, if it chooses to do so, and the application has been adjourned to September 3.

Nankan said in his affidavit that all his attempts so far to resolve the matter with the municipality — including personal visits to, and interactions with officials, as well as written representations — were met with a “deafening silence”.

He was told to pay up or the electricity supply would be disconnected. He has not received a response to a “formal query” noted against his account.

Nankan said he pleaded with Msunduzi in writing to reflect that he runs a “small bottle store and general dealer” employing people who are reliant on their income for their family’s well-being.

He also emphasised that if the business is required to pay the amount concerned it would result in bankruptcy. He added that the municipality could not simply bill his business “arbitrarily” for alleged undercharges dating back to 2009 if its own employees did not do their job properly.

As “an innocent customer”, he was now being blamed.

He said the profit margins of his companies are such that they cannot pay, even in installments.

He also stressed that the businesses have always “religiously” paid their electricity and service accounts and the account was paid up to the time when the alleged “arrears” bill was levied.

Nankan said he is paying the current electricity account but every three months Msunduzi sends disconnection agents to disconnect the electricity supply to his businesses.

On each occasion he tells the agents he is paying the current accounts but that the alleged arrears is in dispute. The agents leave after confirming there was a “formal query” noted on the account.

In August 2014 a “disgruntled” Nankan said he was told by an official in the electricity accounts office to speak to a Marlin Hoskins who was in charge of the municipality’s credit control component.

Nankan said he unfortunately could not see Hoskins that day as he was in a meeting. Subsequently he alleged that Hoskins was “never available” and failed to return his calls or reply to messages that he left.

He finally met with Hoskins in March/ April this year but alleges he was “very unhelpful” and simply told him to pay the amounts levied.

Hoskins allegedly also said that if he “continues his query” over the account he would “have to pay much more”, he said. 
Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  electricity  |  court

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