Residents go prepaid as Msunduzi faces battle over disconnections

2019-02-21 15:41

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A local resident is considering interdicting Msunduzi from disconnecting electricity at her house after being “illegally” disconnected twice already.

Shameela Jasat has warned that if she does not get a written assurance that Msunduzi will not once more disconnect her home in Montrose then she will turn to the courts to prevent the City from disconnecting her in future.

Jasat told The Witness she had been disconnected once this month and once last year, and the business premises of her relative in the CBD was also threatened with disconnection this week. “When they disconnected my house it was, as far as I’m concerned, unlawful. I was never in arrears.

“When you inquire from the credit controller they either say they don’t know or come up with nonsense excuses.”

She said many houses in the Montrose area had faced disconnections this month.

Jasat said: “Someone is authorising these disconnections and the question is on what basis? No notice is being given before they disconnect despite them being obligated (in law) to do so.”

Her complaint comes amid complaints that Msunduzi is on another one of its controversial disconnection drives, on which The Witness has regularly reported for the past year.

Residents have battled with disconnections since February last year when Msunduzi suddenly began a drive to disconnect electricity. The City was accused of doing so to prop up its ailing finances.

Msunduzi is also, meanwhile, facing the possibility of disgruntled residents migrating off its electricity system and moving to a prepaid system to avoid disconnections.

Hilton man James Guimaraens told The Witness he will be moving to a prepaid system after he was threatened with a disconnection at the weekend.

“I was presented with a form that said I owed R2 100 — R1 600 of that is the amount owed for January, which was due on January 31.

“I was not notified that I was in arrears, which Msunduzi is supposed to do. A contractor came to my house on Saturday afternoon asking to be let in so they can disconnect. I refused.”

He said: “I was effectively overdue by 10 days. That is insignificant — a bank will give you three months to pay an overdue car payment. I am happy to pay my bill but we sometimes don’t get our bills so what am I to do?”

He said he eventually settled the bill and paid an extra R3 000 to Msunduzi just to make sure.

Despite not being disconnected, Guimaraens said he is still liable for the disconnection fee, which is around R450.

“I will go on prepaid now. And the thing is that Msunduzi will now lose paying clients because they are just fed up with the way they are treated.”

A Prestbury man said he has also turned to the prepaid system after being disconnected by Msunduzi last year.

This week, a message has been circulating on community groups saying residents will not receive bills this month because of “glitches” on the City’s systems, and that disconnections were “planned again”.

The legitimacy of this message is unknown since Msunduzi spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo did not respond to specific questions. She did say, however, that disconnections were being done, and that the disconnection notice is “incorporated in the statement”.

“The onus is on the customer to enquire about the account and ensure that the account is up to date to avoid a disconnection.

“Customers who may have a query with the account have until the last day of the month to query the account.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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