Quick to claim, but slow in paying out

2013-11-11 00:00

Slow Pay-outs

THE Msunduzi Municipality stands accused of being quick to claim money owing to it, but slow to pay out when it owes money.

Witness Warriors received a flurry of complaints about refunds not being paid, some going back three years to 2010 — with one case that goes back more than five years. Each of the complainants, who had written to the municipality, was told to be patient. They were told the delays were caused by previous fraudulent claims, that systems were being put in place, and that the auditors were checking and verifying claims. The claimants say that each time they phone or e-mail the municipality, they get fobbed off by being told that the matter is with the auditors. Resident Gus Hilson asks: how can it take seven months for the auditors to verify claims?

Residents who had sold properties, or who had moved and were expecting to be credited for their electricity and water deposits by February this year, were told to expect their pay-outs by September. They are yet to be paid.

Witness Warriors collated the refund complaints received by the end of last week and sent a report to the municipality, asking about individual cases and what was being done to make the refund department more efficient. We hope to have a response this week.

Insurance claims

RESIDENTS with refund problems can count themselves lucky that they have at least has some feedback, as those with insurance claims seem to be simply ignored.

Stephanie Barnard has been fighting for close to two years now to get her insurance claim for damaged electrical appliances sorted out. In January this year, after more than a year of trying to get a response, she sent a notice of intention to institute legal proceedings against the municipality. Even this drew no reaction. Her claim relates to electrical appliances damaged due to a fault in the transformer linked to the power supply cable to her Napierville home in December 2011. By May 2012 after numerous

e-mails, she received her first indication that the matter would be resolved. Eighteen months later, she is still waiting.

About eight residents in Salvia Place Northdale had their appliances damaged as a result of a fault in a nearby sub-station at the beginning of this year. They were told to keep their damaged equipment as an inspector would assess the problem. More than seven months later, they are still sitting with their burnt-out appliances and an inspector is yet to visit. Shane Pillay said every time they went to the municipality, they were asked to come back or were given a new reference number.

Claim PL 36/13: Waterford Park — damage due to power fluctuations.

More than three months after seeing their stoves, washing machines, kettles and toasters blow up, after a team from the Msunduzi Electricity Department presumably sorted out a fault in their complex, residents are still waiting for news on their insurance claims.

The Witness has seen correspondence on the matter and to date the problem seems to be that the electricity department has not sent its report on the incident to the finance section. No one seems to be pursuing the matter with any vigour and each time the residents e-mail to try and find out what is happening they are simply told: “We are waiting for the report from electricity”.

Then there is the claim of Juan Barnard, who injured his foot after stepping on an uncovered water meter, which he did not see because the grass was over­­grown. His claim was at first rejected. He pursued the matter and eventually the claim was approved, but 11 months later, he is yet to receive his pay-out.

Water Woes

RESIDENTS in parts of Allandale experienced almost a week of stops and starts in their water supply.

It started with a planned outage on Tuesday that lasted longer than expected. By Thursday morning, there was a pipe burst in Khan Road and by Friday, another burst in Helston Road. The water team expected the problem to be fixed by 9 pm. But by noon, the team sent an SMS to councillors and other officials to inform residents that they had not fully resolved the water issue because the pressure valve they needed to work on was in a locked off area of the Northway Mall and a security guard was refusing to let them in. They said they were going to the police to convince the guard to let them in. Water was restored on Saturday morning.

Resident Radesh Jugath is hoping that some good will come out of their torment over the past week. He said Allandale is built on a hill and residents who live in the higher areas continually experience water pressure problems. Even after having their water restored, they still can’t use their washing machines because the pressure is too low. This is a problem that has been going on for years and they are hoping their water pressure woes will be finally resolved.

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