Right address, wrong municipality account

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The Pietermaritzburg City Hall is the home of Msunduzi Municipality.
The Pietermaritzburg City Hall is the home of Msunduzi Municipality.

A Pelham resident and her daughter, who lives in Napierville, have each been sent municipal accounts meant for residents living in Northdale.

Frederika Venter, who lives in Christie Road, said she had been looking at her bill, which was under a magnet on the fridge door, and felt something about it “was not quite right”.

On taking a closer look, she discovered that while her address was correct on the outside of the bill envelope, the billing information inside was for a person living in Jupiter Road, Northdale.

She later found out that the same error had been made with her daughter, Stephanie Barnard’s account. Again, the proper recipient was a resident of Northdale, this time living in Reservoir Road.

“They need to look at their bills properly because if they don’t they could end up paying someone else’s account.”
Frederika Venter, Pelham resident

The Witness has copies of both accounts and the billing errors are clear to see.

“I started thinking about it [the bills] at the weekend and I believe there are a lot more people affected by this situation than just us,” Venter said. “Most people don’t check the address on the inside. They just look at the amount they owe.”

Venter said she tried to speak to staff at the municipal call centre about the mix-up on Friday last week, but couldn’t get any help. “We don’t know how much our electricity bill is at the moment,” she added. “I’m just going to have to wait until I have a bit more time and phone them again.”

In the meantime, Venter wants other residents to be vigilant, saying: “They need to look at their bills properly because if they don’t they could end up paying someone else’s account.”

“Issues like this will remain, unless we change the entire [SAP] system.”
Ross Strachan, DA councillor

Councillor Ross Strachan, who represents the DA on the Msunduzi council, said the billing problem was a direct result of the SAP accounting software system used by the municipality and the capacity of the accounts department.

“This department is plagued daily by billing errors due to an ever failing administrational system that needs an entire overhaul, and staff that cannot keep up with the demands due to a capacity crisis,” he added.

“Issues like this will remain, unless we change the entire system.”

ALSO READ: SAP financial system is the Achilles heel of Msunduzi, says administrator

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said residents who received bills showing such errors should contact the accounts department, providing their account number and that of the other person.

The municipality will then investigate to see if there has been an internal error or if the Post Office has delivered the bill to the wrong person.

Residents who do not receive bills via e-mail can request to do so by sending an e-mail to billing@msunduzi.gov.za or a WhatsApp message to 083 423 9887.


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