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Monday Sep 23, 2013

Joburg claims R90 000 from dead property owner

A Sydenham woman who died six years ago is being charged more than R90 000 for electricty and water by the City of Joburg. Now her daughter, a pensioner, is demanding the council rectify their mistake.

When Pam von Schweitzer, 73, took ownership of her late mother Nelly Stebbings' house after she died in 2008, she was surprised to learn that the city had allocated an extra electricity meter to her mother's account - in addition to the water meter and the existing electricity meter.

'In June my husband went to see a senior manager at Thuso House in Joburg. He told us that he had found that there's a third meter on our record, which doesn't exist.

'The manager sent an auditor meter reader who confirmed the existing two meters.'
She also said she received an incorrect computeraccount statement 'that made up imaginary charges'.

'The previous account balance on it was R90 557, with no explanation.'

Von Schweitzer said she had been paying large amounts for utility bills because it seemed the city's system did not recognise the solar heating system she had installed in her house in 2010.

She claims the city ignored actual meter readings and charged 'their own excessive computer estimates'. All she wants is for 'anyone to make sense of this'.

Kgamanyane Stan Maphologela, the city's acting director of customer communications, said an investigation was being conducted into whether there actually was a third meter allocated to Von Schweitzer and if so, why.

Maphologela added it was possible to corroborate the figures that appeared on Von Schweitzer's invoices but 'an answer to whether the third meter exists can be given only once the investigation is done'.

Maphologela said the investigation would include a proper and confirmed meter-reading process to establish the number of meters allocated to the property and the correct readings on these meters.

'Once a full investigation is done and findings are provided, the account will be adjusted and finalised.'

Maphologela added that the city would also investigate why all Van Schweitzer's invoices were still addressed to her deceased mother.

'There are processes to follow in dealing with estates. We will check if the correct proceedings were followed from both the client's and the city's side.'

Von Schweitzer's account would be checked for consistency and accuracy. And once the investigation was finalised it would, if necessary, be adjusted according to the outcome of the investigation, said Maphologela.

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