uMngeni owes R3 mln

2018-10-17 15:53
Tenants left without water as district cuts off in-debt municipality.

Tenants left without water as district cuts off in-debt municipality.

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The uMngeni Municipality has been delinquent in paying its water bill, and is believed to owe as much as R3 million to the uMgungundlovu District Municipality.

This has emerged as disgruntled residents from uMngeni’s municipal housing flats confronted uMngeni municipal manager Thembeka Cibane at her offices on Tuesday morning after their water was cut off on Monday.

uMngeni is said not to have paid the bill for a bulk water meter that feeds two municipal apartment buildings housing about 40 residents.

This is the first major casualty of uMgungundlovu’s new disconnection drive to force various debtors to settle some R500 million in unpaid utilities for services already provided.

Michelle Vosloo, a resident from the municipal flats, told The Witness that residents had noticed workers digging around the bulk water meter during the weekend.

“Then on Monday, they put the water off. We tried to speak to [Cibane] but she said she didn’t know anything. People we knew at the finance office told us uMngeni was in debt so we went to speak to the MM.”

The houses cater for poor residents, and rent ranges from R1 500 to R2 000. “We demanded a water truck to stop off at our flats, but got no commitment from [Cibane]. What can we do? We don’t know. We need water.”

Vosloo feared their water will only return once uMngeni makes good on its payments.

The area’s councillor, Janis Holmes, said she was alerted about the incident on Monday.

“The municipal manager told residents when they confronted her that she was unaware of it, and told them that [uMngeni] received a consolidated bill from uMgungundlovu for R3 million, so it could not be said how much was outstanding for the municipal housing.”

Holmes said she had engaged with uMgungundlovu on Tuesday, and was told the district would do an investigation into the accounts of the tenants at the municipal houses, and then bill uMngeni as if it were a “landlord” to the flats.

“Because landlords are responsible for bills like water, so it makes sense that way,” she said.

Thando Mgaga, spokesperson for uMngeni, referred The Witness’ questions regarding billing to uMgungun­dlovu.

However, he said: “... we have liaised with the district. This has entailed informing them about the water cuts reported to us by the residents and by committing … that we will actively engage [with uMgungundlovu] on their behalf.”

uMgungundlovu spokesperson Brian Zuma, would not say how much uMngeni owed the district.

He said uMngeni would need to make arrangements with uMgungundlovu for the municipal housing to be reconnected, and it would be liable to pay a reconnection fee.

“We are doing this [debt recovery drive] across the board, including councillors and managers’ properties. To single out flat tenants and [the] uMngeni Municipality for what is owed to the district will not reflect the holistic purpose of our campaign, which is revenue enhancement through debt collection.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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