‘The judge must pay up’

2012-01-24 00:00

“IF the judge owes money he must pay,” said Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi, after the municipality cut off Judge Rishinand Seegobin’s water for 10 days.

Nkosi said there “were irregular payments and the disconnection was the normal credit measure”.

But the total disconnection of water is illegal, said the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco).

Seegobin maintained that there was a billing error in his water and electricity account, and he has received little help from Msunduzi to resolve the matter.

After more than a week without water, the municipality finally reconnected the service yesterday, following the judge’s threat to take legal action.

“I’m not ecstatic about the reconnection because it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. I think they reconnected my water because of who I am,” said the judge.

“It’s unlawful to cut water. Water is a basic right,” he added.

Nkosi said the judge was paying the estimated costs all along, but when the actual meter readings were conducted the bill escalated.

Seegobin said his bill is currently sitting at about R48 000. He has been paying an average of R2 700 a month.

“If he doesn’t settle the amount he will be disconnected again,” said Nkosi.

National spokesperson of Sanco Dumisani Mthalane said water disconnections are illegal.

“The municipalities are supposed to reduce water pressure to at least a trickle and not cut them off completely.

“Reducing pressure can be used as a tool to encourage people to pay their water bills if they are made to struggle to even fill a bucket, not disconnecting them,” Mthalane said.

However, Nkosi said when the municipality lowers water pressure residents can still use the service and the bill escalates even more, which is why the municipality resorted to cutting it off completely.

“Water is a basic right. Imagine having no water and living with a sick person and not having the means to clean them up,” Mthalane said.

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