Cash-strapped Msunduzi plans to attach debtors’ homes and goods

2019-10-11 13:39
City Hallâ??s Clock tower keeps ticking. The Msunduzi municipality has managed to keep ahead of the problem the pigeons keep dropping. Photo. Jonathan Burton8BIM

City Hallâ??s Clock tower keeps ticking. The Msunduzi municipality has managed to keep ahead of the problem the pigeons keep dropping. Photo. Jonathan Burton8BIM (file)

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Property owners who owe Msunduzi could lose their assets as the City plans to approach the courts to attach them to recovery monies owed for rates and services.

This comes after council yesterday resolved to adopt a debt recovery plan to attach business and residential properties worth more than R1 million.

As part of its revenue enhancement strategy, Msunduzi has been disconnecting debtors in attempts to force them to pay, but some have fought back saying they were incorrectly billed.

The City’s debtors list — which is nearing R4 billion — has been gradually increasing over the years and the major contributors are households, at more than R2,6 billion, followed by business at over R670 million and then government with almost R300 million.

The revenue department is reportedly in the process of appointing a panel of debt collectors.

Acting City manager Nelisiwe Ngcobo said the attachment of properties would not affect indigents or government departments.

She said they would only focus at properties worth R1 million and above but that would only be done after Msunduzi had exhausted all the legal processes to recover arrears.

In rental properties the City would approach the court to attach the rental income. As part of the plan, council would also form a dispute committee to deliberate on arrears, deal with disputes and then decide whether the municipality should approach the court.

Council also approved the recommendation “that all residential properties with a market value of less than R1 million be subjected to all other legal processes including attachment of goods and blacklisting”.

According to a report by debt management senior official Marlon Hoskins, only debtors with valid reasons such as a pending dispute would defend attempts to attach their assets.

“It would be in the interest of council to ensure that all disputes are resolved internally, as soon as they are raised during the collection process.

“This will reduce the collection process and also add credibility to the claim of the outstanding debt,” he cautioned.

Al Jama-ah’s Mohamed Salim Goga questioned why government properties were excluded from the plan since departments also owed Msunduzi millions of rands for rates and services.

The administrator, Sibusiso Sithole, said debt owed by government was already subjected to a different collection process. He said it would be difficult to attach a clinic or a school. He said the municipality could not sue government but there were already some engagements involving Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs as well as the provincial and national treasuries to recover monies owed by government to Msunduzi.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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