Anger at rejected claims

2014-10-10 00:00

OUTRAGED Northdale residents are refusing to back down over compensation for appliances damaged and destroyed in a May power surge, saying the municipality was negligent in the matter.

The residents cornered Msunduzi officials during a community meeting yesterday after learning they will not be compensated.

They received letters two weeks ago from the claims division, telling them their claims had been rejected.

The power surged after thieves vandalised a substation, and the municipality said it was not liable.

The letters, seen by The Witness, read: “The circumstances of your loss have been fully investigated and considered and I regret to advise the claim has been rejected …”

The group of about 100 people at the meeting disagreed. Many confronted the officials and insurance assessors who had rejected their claims with evidence of negligence by the municipality, prompting the officials to promise further investigation.

Officials from the electricity department who compiled the report used to reject the claims, were apparently invited to the meeting but did not attend.

A resident, who would not be named, said the electricity department workers had left the substation doors unlocked, making it easy for copper thieves to gain access. “They [the workers] went to the school where the substation is to turn off the power. They did not have the key so they broke the lock and did not lock the station again.”

He showed The Witness pictures of the substation with the door unlocked and the broken padlock on the ground.

“We pay for 200 volts of electricity, not 400. When the power surged, it destroyed every appliance that was connected at the time. To date I have spent R9 000 repairing my appliances, and my TV is still being repaired. Some of the appliances have [sentimental] value; they were given to me by relatives and are hard to repair.”

He said some of the people who lost appliances were pensioners. “They needed to repair some of the necessary equipment like fridges … They believed they would be reimbursed.”

The resident said the municipality refused to fix the substation doors.

Councillor Rooksana Ahmed said she was concerned that important information directly related to the claim had not been given to the claims division.

“We had two previous meetings where we gave the officials this information.”

The municipality had not responded to queries by yesterday afternoon.

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