Frustrating disconnections

2014-09-01 00:00

THERE appears to be no monitoring in the Msunduzi Municipality’s electricity disconnection and re-connection unit.

In the past week, we have had three complaints about the wrong houses being disconnected, two in the Clarendon area and one in Woodlands.

A complainant who eventually went to Havelock Road said he found a number of other people there complaining about being wrongly disconnected. He believes the problem is far more widespread and that there has to be better supervision.

The complainants say that while the municipality is quick to disconnect, it is slow to rectify its mistake and carry out the reconnections promptly.

They complain that the first stumbling block is to get somebody to answer the customer service line — 033 392 5011.

It seems that word of the municipal service charter and improved customer relations may not have filtered to Havelock Road. The phone, say complainants, rings endlessly without anyone answering.

Meanwhile, city resident Lisa would like to know whether others have had a similar experience to her own — being charged for disconnection visitation fees when nobody actually visits your property.

Lisa says she is disputing this with the municipality, as they have charged her R380 every month for six months now, claiming that they did visit, but could not get access.

“Its simply not true, but they say it’s my word against the disconnection team’s word, so there is not much I can do,” says Lisa.

Witness Warriors sent Lisa’s query to the municipality and was asked for her address.

Spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said this will assist in getting the disconnection contractor’s comments. Lisa gave her address, but did not hold out much hope that anything would come of it.

Lisa e-mailed The Witness after the official simply refused to entertain the idea that the contractors might be lying about visiting her property for six months in a row and claiming that they could not get access.

If you’ve had your own disconnection woes or a similar experience to Lisa, please e-mail Witness Warriors and tell us your story.


Toni Woodgate complained about streetlights not working in Celtis Road and Old Howick Road. It seemed the municipality went out and fixed some of the lights, but not others. Woodgate wondered why the job had been half done.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the team did go out again and reported that the lights were now working.

Similarly, Judy Grobler complained about streetlights that had not been working for several months in Marwick Road and Orange Grove in the Prestbury area. Witness Warriors was informed this week that these streetlights have been fixed.

Get moving Parks Department

Moira Bolton wrote to Witness Warriors complaining about the threat of fires near her Lincoln Meade complex on August 8. After sending several e-mails to the municipality, we finally received a response this week. She has had to wait even longer.

Bolton wrote: “In April 2013, 16 months ago, we requested the municipality to clear a two-metre firebreak along our boundary. It has been a long boring story of being shunted from pillar to post — at least five different municipal grounds staff had been connected with this project. We are fortunate that a fire has not yet occurred this year, but every day the complex is full of flying ash from nearby grass fires.

“I wrote a final e-mail to the grounds section yesterday to demand a response by noon today, indicating what action they were going to take and when it will be carried out, failing which I threatened to write to Witness Warriors.”

Witness Warriors has learnt that this request has been bouncing between departments with no resolution and everyone agreed that it was the responsibility of the Parks Department.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha acknowledged the municipality’s responsibility. She said a dedicated programme should be implemented to burn firebreaks, “as was always the case with Parks/Conservation Unit”.

The big question for Bolton is when is this going to happen. The high winds over the past week and the veld fires raging all around the city served as a frightening reminder of the precarious situation faced by residents.

This is a plea to the Parks Department to get moving and clear the firebreaks.

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