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Friday Jul 06, 2018

Cape Town property owners irate over large water bills

Sky-high municipal accounts of some Capetonians have sparked a massive outcry after it emerged that some ratepayers had been billed in excess of R300 000 following a system glitch.

Some residents are also blaming the City's new water meter devices that were introduced as part of its drought mitigation plan.

But the City's move has been met with a flood of complaints, with some residents refusing to pay the exorbitant bills.

Vredehoek resident Kerstin Fritz received a municipal bill of R350 000 which she had to pay before July 2.

She said since a new water meter device was installed in November 2017, her total municipal bill had rocketed.

"I don't know what these people are smoking, but this is not right. You cannot bill people so much, especially when there are fewer than four people on a property.

"I had seven leaks, one of which was underground, since the installation of this new water meter device. All the leaks were fixed," she said.

Fritz took the issue to the City and showed plumbers' reports and other information to sort out the issue. "I am not paying this amount of money because I don't have it.

"It's absolute madness that I have to pay this. It makes no sense at all and the City is doing nothing about this," she said. "I re-use water wherever I can, but it appears that we are being punished for saving water."

Usman Mohammed, from Blue Downs, has been slapped with a R21 000 bill for the property he occupies on a rent-to-buy agreement. "How will I ever be able to buy this house? I signed up on a contract to buy the house I am renting and, as per normal, the buyer has to settle the outstanding rates account.

"In February there was a bill of R9 500 which I managed to pay, but the next month it was about the same and I again paid it. Now I am sitting with a R21 000 bill in a house that I want to buy, but I can't because of this. The chances of getting the money backĀ… that will never happen."

Nosey Pieterse, leader of the farmworker union Bawusa, said he took the City to court after it installed a water meter and charged him R4 000. "I refused to pay. I took them to court and the court ruled in my favour. It is absurd that people are charged these high prices for a service that is problematic."

Faiez Jacobs, ANC provincial secretary, said they would challenge the unjustifiable increases in court. "This is a slippery slope that the City cannot be allowed to go into. We cannot allow this thumb-sucking of numbers. It's time the City returns to normalcy and stops using the water crisis (real or imagined) as a money-making scheme."

Wayne Duvenage, chairperson of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, said there was a problem with the City's billing system. "It is impossible to use so much water and other municipal services. We have seen this problem in many municipalities that are completely messing up their billing systems," he said.

Questions sent to the City of Cape Town were not responded to yesterday.

Cape Argus

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