‘Pay first, ask later’

2015-08-12 11:59
Sanjay Mewalall holds up a R226?000 electricity bill outside his business, Thistle Liquor Store, yesterday.

Sanjay Mewalall holds up a R226?000 electricity bill outside his business, Thistle Liquor Store, yesterday. (Ian Carbutt)

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PAY first, then we will talk.

That’s what a local businessman said he was told by the Msunduzi Municipality who want him to settle his exorbitant R226 000 electricity bill first before they discuss details of how they came to the amount they believe he owes.

Owner of Thistle Liquor Store in Boshoff Street Sanjay Mewalall, who is in the process of selling the business, said he settled his bill of roughly R3 000 two weeks ago, however, during the process of transferring ownership last week he was suddenly confronted by a R226 000 bill.

“I settled my account the previous week and there was a nil balance. A few days later when I was busy with the transfer of ownership, the municipality stopped the transfer, saying I needed to settle the R200 000-plus electricity account. I know I don’t owe anything to the municipality so I am shocked as to where this amount came from,” he said.

Mewalall said when he queried the high electricity bill, he was informed that meter readers had been recording five digits of the six digits on his meter since 2009.

“That reason is so pathetic. How can all the meter readers for the past six years be reading only five digits? Surely there was more than one meter reader reading the meter at a time. How can all meter readers be doing the same incorrect procedure?” Mewalall asked.

He said he paid his municipal bills timeously “without any hassles” and he is “highly irritated” that the municipality cannot accommodate him.

“I have always paid the municipality on time and now when it is them at fault, they have no time for me. They insist I should pay the bill and then they will accommodate my query. I think this is unfair. Where am I going to get that kind of money now?” said Mewalall.

He said the “mess-up” by the municipality is now stalling the sale of his business.

Msunduzi Municipality acting spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said they are busy investigating Mewalall’s query.

“The matter is still under investigation and we will comment once we have all the facts pertaining to this matter.”

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