Debt plan outcry

2020-01-27 15:00
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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Msunduzi has rejected allegations that its recently appointed panel of “ruthless” debt collectors was brought in to harass residents of the northern suburbs.

Last week The Witness reported that the City had hired 24 debt collectors to assist in recovering the monies owed for rates and services. The municipality said it handed over the accounts of 67 000 customers, with a total value of R1,8 billion, whose debts had been in arrears for more than 120 days.

“The debtors are not only from the northern areas. The municipality is therefore refuting the allegations that the residents in the northern suburbs are being subjected to harassment,” said city spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo.

The allegations of harassment circulated on social media on Friday after the debt collectors spoke to some of the residents whose accounts were not up to date.

Ngcobo urged consumers whose accounts were in arrears to enter into a payment arrangement, as failing to do so would result in legal action being taken to recover the debt.

“The debt collectors are tasked with a responsibility to ensure that this happens. They will not be deterred from doing their job.”

Ngcobo said the municipality was resolute and determined to ensure that the credit control and debt collection policy as well as related strategies were implemented efficiently. She said the consumers had always been treated in a manner that was respectful and fair but “they also have a duty to co-operate and bring their accounts up to date”.

On Sunday Northdale councillor Rooksana Ahmed said Msunduzi had a right to collect money due to it for service and rates, however the City should try to be more considerate towards its customers as many “are already frustrated as they hardly receive any service delivery”.

She said the municipality should have considered informing the ward councillors about the arrival of debt collectors as they could have notified the communities ahead of time.

Ahmed said there was also a lot of confusion because the debt collectors seemed to be going after some of customers that had already entered into payment with the City and had not defaulted on those.

“The debt collectors are forcing people to sign new arrangements and also pay more to increase their deposits.”

Ahmed said Msunduzi should also have ensured that qualifying indigent households were registered and given amnesty before setting debt collectors on them. She cautioned council against sending debt collectors to people with pending disputes on their accounts, saying the municipality must first ensure that customers were billed correctly.

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality

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