Municipality still in smart meter row

2013-06-13 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality is still embroiled in a dispute over its controversial R240 million smart meter contract, which was cancelled three years ago.

Yesterday high court Judge Anton van Zyl gave the municipality time to defend an application by Unique Mbane SA (PTY) Ltd, for payment of R12 million plus interest. Unique Mbane alleges that Msunduzi owes it R8 498 198,40 for equipment that it sold and supplied to the municipality in April and May 2010. In addition, there was an amount of R3 778 256 being the “cumulative shortfall of payments” in respect of meter reading and disconnection services rendered by the company from April 2011 to June 2012.

Msunduzi Municipality gave notice of its intention to defend the action.

However, in an affidavit, Unique Mbane director Thiru-Moorthi Chetty said he believed the municipality had no defence and that the money was owed and needed to be paid. He felt that the intention to defend was simply a delaying tactic.

Judge Van Zyl refused to grant summary judgment against Msunduzi and gave the municipality leave to defend the action. No date was set for future proceedings.

When Msunduzi went under administration, the smart meter contract came under scrutiny. There were questions over the manner in which it was awarded. The administrators also asked why the municipality would award such an expensive contract when there was no money budgeted for it. The contract was subsequently cancelled. The company remained in charge of meter reading, but this link was also dissolved in June last year, when the municipality decided to do its own meter reading.

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