Electricity thieves in for a great big shock

2010-06-23 00:00

ELECTRICITY thieves are set to be hammered financially now that the Msunduzi Municipality has put new measures in place to help them deal with this rampant practice.

From July 1, if the municipality discovers that a business has been stealing electricity, it will be made to pay a fine of R250 000.

A repeat offence will result in a business being fined R300 000, while a third offence will result in a business being slapped with a R500 000 fine.

But businesses will not be the only ones facing hefty fines for electricity theft.

First-time domestic offenders will be fined R10 000.

If a domestic consumer is caught out a second time, the fine escalates to R15 000 and third-time offenders will be liable for a fine of R25 000.

These measures form part of the municipality’s amended credit control and debt collection policy, which was revealed at yesterday’s executive committee (Exco) meeting.

Msunduzi administrator Johann Mettler said that from next month users wanting to enter into a new service agreement with the municipality will be able to do so only when outstanding accounts owed on their property are fully paid up.

This means that property owners will have to make sure that tenants pay their accounts or they will be held liable.

Said Mettler: “We as the municipality make rules in respect of how we provide services to those who use them. It’s up to the landlord to make arrangements and make sure that the accounts are up to date.

“This agreement will result in both parties receiving accounts. Both of them are equally responsible.”

Council speaker Babu Baijoo said these measures are allowed in terms of the National Credit Act.

He said a judge in a court in Pretoria has ruled in favour of the policy.

Mettler said any customer, including the property owner, who wants to apply for the provision of municipal services will now have to pay a deposit that will be determined by averaging out that property’s consumption of services over three months.

Mettler said they have also amended the agreement about payments for accounts in arrears.

“When a customer in arrears is a business or commercial concern, a minimum of 50% of the total overdue amount and the current amount due, as an initial payment, shall be paid, and the balance of the account shall be paid in equal instalments over a maximum period of six months,” he said.

Mettler said the previous policy allowed businesses to pay equal instalments over 12 months after paying a minimum deposit of 50% on the overdue amount.

He said domestic consumers in arrears will continue to pay a 10% deposit on the overdue amount and then settle the rest in equal instalments over a 12-month period, but a new amendment has been put in place.

“Upon written application by a customer, the maximum repayment period may be extended to 60 months at the discretion of the consolidated billing manager,” he said.

Baijoo said he foresees no problem with having one manager responsible for electricity payments, “because if you have three or four they pass the buck.

“At least one manager can be held accountable and the CFO and municipal manager can step in if need be.”

Mettler said the manager will report back to Exco every month to ensure accountability.


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