Sobantu residents’ prepaid electricity increased by 18%

2017-07-18 13:34
Sobantu resident Xolani Dladla with his prepaid electricity receipt showing that Sobantu residents had an 18% increase implemented on their electricity tariff recently.

Sobantu resident Xolani Dladla with his prepaid electricity receipt showing that Sobantu residents had an 18% increase implemented on their electricity tariff recently. (Ian Carbutt)

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Sobantu residents are questioning whether the 18% increase on their prepaid electricity tokens is a “punishment” by the municipality or a simple error in their billing.

Sobantu may be the only area in Msunduzi where the 18% increase was implemented since July 1 this year.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said they were investigating the issue of the increases and would have answers for the media and residents later in the week.

Sobantu resident Xolani Dladla said he noticed the increase in the cost of electricity at the beginning of July this year.

Dladla said upon inspecting his receipts of purchase from previous months, he noticed some changes.

“I saw that I was no longer on scale two and was moved onto scale three and the price of electricity was not the amount we were initially told,” Dladla said.

He said when he checked with his neighbours and other people in the area, the same changes were made on their receipts of purchase.

“This is a serious problem for me and my household. We approached our councillor, who said he will also look into it.

“This is really not fair on Sobantu residents because people living in this area do not earn a lot and should not be paying the most for electricity,” he said.

Dladla said he felt the residents were being “punished” for protesting against the 40% deduction from their prepaid tokens last month.

In a tense four-hour standoff with police last month, Sobantu residents took to the streets to voice their anger at the “unlawful” blanket deduction on all their prepaid electricity tokens.

A local advocacy group also added their voice to the fight for Sobantu residents, saying it was “extremely disturbing” that Sobantu was the only area paying the high price for electricity.

Spokesperson for the Electricity Action Group (EAG), Bonginkosi Sibisi said they had been dealing with many residents who were struggling to make ends meet.

Sibisi said the residents were not told that their tariffs would be shifted to a more expensive scale.

“Furthermore there appears to be no rationale for the shift as nothing has changed regarding how households use electricity.

“If anything, households now use less electricity because the affordability crisis has deepened,” Sibisi said.

The shift to a higher scale meant that the prepaid tariff charge of R1,38 per kilowatt increased to R1,63 per kilowatt.

Sibisi said Sobantu seemed to be an “experimental community” where the municipality implements “pilot projects” to test before implementing them elsewhere in the city.

Julie Smith from Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) blamed Msunduzi Municipality for “causing a massive affordability crisis”.

“Government grants increased by less than six percent this year so how can you justify this increase, especially for a community that is really struggling financially,” Smith asked.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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