City hall phone sex a scam … or maybe not, says insider

2014-11-24 00:00

DON’T be too quick to dismiss the Pietermaritzburg City Hall phone sex bills as a scam, warns a government employee in the capital city.

The employee, who cannot be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, recalled that one of the government ­departments he had previously worked in had received a ­summons for payment for a call to a phone sex chatline.

“There was an investigation and a culprit caught. He turned out to be the brother of an ­employee,” the official said. He said the department, following legal advice, did not pay for the call as the contract was between the individual who made the call and the phone sex company.

The Witness reported last week that a legal letter of ­demand was sent to city hall for the payment of R1 920 for a call to “Our Way Adult Chatline”.

The call had been made from the reception desk of the ­Executive Council’s (Exco) suite of offices.

The news left senior Exco councillor Bill Lambert fuming, both at the breach of security and the blot on the reputation of the hallowed city hall.

Msunduzi’s manager in the municipal manager’s office, Madeleine Jackson-Plaatjies, managed to pour oil over ­troubled waters when she said it was a scam.

Jackson-Plaatjies had a similar call made from her office. An investigation concluded the company was trying to extract money from the municipality as there was no clear evidence that the call was ever made.

Carte Blanche recently ­carried a report of a chatline company sending hefty bills to parents whose teenagers had used the sex line.

Carte Blanche spoke to ­attorney Lucien Pierce on the rights of telephone subscribers.

Pierce advised that the owner of a phone cannot be held liable if someone else has made the call on their phone.

At the start of the sex talk, the chatline would have gathered some information from the ­caller for billing purposes.

The onus was, therefore, on the chatline to pursue the ­individual who made the actual call for any payment due.

The summons sent to the city hall was addressed to: ­“The Owner of the Company”.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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