Resident charged for electricity despite using pre-paid system

2019-03-27 06:01
PHOTO: lethiwe makhanyaElectricity bills from the municipality that have been corrected with a red pen by municipal employees.

PHOTO: lethiwe makhanyaElectricity bills from the municipality that have been corrected with a red pen by municipal employees.

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WHEN she switched to prepaid electricity, Phumelele Mbambo hoped her days of receiving massive, incorrect electricity bills from the municipality would come to an end, but that has not been the case as she is still getting charged for using municipal electricity six months after she switched to prepaid.

Mbambo, from Scottsville, said her problems started in 2015 when she started receiving electricity bills that amounted to R10 000 a month. She said she used to go to the municipal offices to enquire about it but they would tell her that the reading was wrong but that she was required to pay that amount.

She said that if she refused to pay that amount municipal employees would come to her house and disconnect the electricity.

“After paying these huge amounts for two years I received advice from one of the municipal employees that it would be better if I switched to prepaid to avoid these problems. In September 2018 I applied for prepaid electricity and I was told I must pay all the outstanding balance before they can put me on prepaid, so I paid the full amount as they said.

“At the end of September they sent me a statement saying that I owe R1 600. I went to enquire about it and I was told that it is normal that in the first month after you have switched to prepaid you will get a statement. I did not have a problem with that so I paid that amount,” she said.

Mbambo says in October she received a statement of over R2 600. She said when she ignored it and did not pay that amount, the municipality came to disconnect her.

“In December I paid R4 920 because I was scared that they were going to disconnect my electricity.

“In January they charged me R8 759 and when my husband went to enquire they said they have no idea where these extra amounts are coming from. I ended up paying R1 000. In February I was charged R4 314 but I only paid R920 because they [municipal employees] advised me to pay that amount.

“Every month I have the task of going to the municipality to complain about the same thing [being charged for electricity] and I am tired now.

“When I switched to prepaid I wanted to have peace of mind. I am tired of paying for something that I don’t even use.

“I do not have a problem with paying for other services except for electricity because I am not using their electricity anymore,” she said.

Mbambo said she does not have a problem even if the municipality does not pay her back the money she has spent as long as they are going to stop charging her for electricity and threatening disconnection if she does not pay.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha responded to the media query sent by Echo saying: “The consumer is on prepaid, as can be seen from the attached bills.

“Whilst the consumer is not being billed for electricity, billing still takes place for refuse, sewer, water.

There is an arrears balance that the consumer must make payment for to avoid further legal steps to recover the arrear balance,” she said.

Echo responded to her requesting clarity on her statement as it is not related to Mbambo’s issue and does not make sense, however, she did not revert at the time of print deadline.

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