‘I won’t open my gate’

2015-07-16 09:36

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“IT would be foolish to let a stranger in at that ridiculous time” — this was among the responses from Pietermaritzburg residents to yesterday’s Witness article “Late meter calls a fiasco”.

Residents said they would not allow municipal meter readers onto their property late at night, although the municipality says they could be found guilty of an offence.

The Witness was inundated with calls and e-mails from residents following yesterday’s front-page story, saying that meter readers had visited their homes as late as 9 pm.

“There is no way that anybody should be expected to open their gates to these people at night or after dark. It is all good and well to say they have ID cards, but the person has to get close to be able to check them, and in the event that it is not a meter reader, that person’s life could already be in danger. With all the events happening in our city, I am sorry to say but I will not open for them,” said local resident Charles Burley.

Mike Selby of Mayors Walk said meter readers should only work until 6 pm — later than that will be “cutting into family time”.

“I too have had a municipal employee arrive at my gate at about 8.30 pm to read the meter. The lady tapped so lightly on my gate that I did not hear her. It was only when my dog barked that I went out to see what was going on. By the time I got to my gate, it looked like she was filling in a form to leave in the post box, so I asked her what she wanted and she said she was here to get the meter reading.

“I explained to her that I had given the meter reading to a municipal employee that same afternoon, but she did not care; she wanted the reading, so I gave it to her,” said Selby.

He added that he had had meter readers come to his house on weekends, but this was the first time they had come at night.

Bellevue resident Warren Oliphant said he was “horrified” to read the ­Witness article and he would “under no circumstances open my gate after dark for anyone without a prior ­appointment”.

“We have a right to safety and security. It is not clear why the council has decided to engage in behaviour that puts communities at risk of being robbed by opportunistic thugs who might pose as meter readers at your gate, then produce a gun to escort you back into your house, rob you and kill you if they think you might identify them,” he said.
Oliphant said that apart from the issue of safety, he refused to be charged for “not being home or having fallen asleep, or not having an intercom when a meter reader randomly turns up at 9 pm”. “Anyone wishing to gain my ­attention at night does so by appointment, not only for my safety, but out of civility. If they want to read my meter at night, they’re welcome to do so, but I should know the date and time in advance,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  meter-reading

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