Family’s double misery as dad dies in crash, leaving Msunduzi power bill dispute unresolved

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A well-known local businessman, Bevan Clayton (45), was killed in a car accident on Sunday leaving his family to continue fighting a battle with Msunduzi Municipality over an electricity bill of more than R278 000.

His attorney, Kogulan Chetty, told The Witness yesterday that at the time of his death Clayton was embroiled in a legal battle with Msunduzi over the disconnection of electricity to his Woodlands property and said his family are now suffering after Msunduzi did not adhere to a court order granted on February 10 instructing it — pending finalisation of the matter — to reconnect the lights to the property “forthwith”.

He said the family were appealing to Msunduzi to reconnect them for “humanitarian” as well as legal reasons as they plan Clayton’s funeral.

According to court papers supplied to The Witness, the court order restrained Msunduzi from terminating the supply of electricity to the property pending finalisation of the dispute and directed Msunduzi to “reconnect the supply of electricity to the applicant’s premises forthwith”.

“With the change of system my account changed from about R64 228,57 to about R100 000, again without any explanation from first respondent for the exorbitant increases.”
The late Bevan Clayton.

The Witness sent an inquiry to Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha asking why the municipality had not acted on the court order, as alleged by Chetty. She responded late yesterday saying that they are “still investigating the matter”.

Chetty said Clayton leaves his common law partner, Miranda Naidoo, and three children aged 18, eight, and four months old.

The accident that claimed his life happened near the intersection of Manchester and Old Greytown Roads on Sunday morning when Clayton’s vehicle skidded off the road and hit a tree.

“He recently survived Covid and was under huge stress resulting from a fabricated criminal case against him and the case against Msunduzi,” said Chetty.

According to Clayton’s affidavit in the court case Msunduzi disconnected the electricity supply to the house in Woodlands on February 1 in relation to summons issued against him for R278 422,19 together with interest.

Clayton states in the court papers that up until September 2016 his account was a “mere R822,46” and that regular payments were made.

“By July 2017 my account arrears increased to about R64 228,57 without any explanation of the increase from the first respondent [Msunduzi],” he said.

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He said in the same year Msunduzi changed from the Promise billing system to the SAP system.

“With the change of system my account changed from about R64 228,57 to about R100 000, again without any explanation from first respondent for the exorbitant increases,” he said.

Clayton said all attempts to query the amounts were fruitless save to be told that a new system was in place.

He disputed the bill on various grounds but said that on receiving a summons that was served via his daughter on January 28 this year, he immediately went to the offices of the attorneys representing Msunduzi and said that out of fear of having his property attached and sold, he had signed an acknowledgement of debt.

“It is evident from the acknowledgment of debt that by agreement, I had to pay R150 000 by the 15th of February 2021, yet the power supply to my premises had been terminated,” he said.

He alleged the disconnection was effected without notice to him and was “in breach of [Msunduzi’s] credit control and debt collection policy”, and gave various reasons as to why he was disputing the amount.

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