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Wednesday Aug 24, 2011

Joburg property owners stunned by backdated bills

Shocked Joburg residents have started receiving unexplained refuse collection bills for between R3 000 and R4 000, plus VAT, which the city's revenue department claims are arrear payments dating back to 2007.

Several residents from various suburbs have complained to The Star about this unexplained charge being added to their July bills.

DA councillor Steven Kotze said he had received about 30 phone calls from residents in the past two weeks regarding this large additional charge on their accounts.

"There is no breakdown of how this charge has been arrived at, but appears to be a Pikitup charge. It seems that the billing department have messed up in that they forgot to charge certain people for Pikitup or other charges for anywhere for a period between one and two years, and are now trying to claim the money back," Kotze said.

People had a number of issues with this, he said.

First, there was no explanation of what has happened or a detailed breakdown of the account; there had been no apology for the mistake from the City of Joburg; and thirdly, many of the people who receive these bills are pensioners or are on very tight budgets, and are unable to pay an extra R3 000, he said.

Sue Resnick, who lives in Bramley, got an additional bill of R3 851 on her bill with a 2007 date. There was another charge for 2009 for 0.23c.

"They must be joking. When I phoned, they said they apparently forgot to include these charges on the bill and have now backdated the charges, and we are expected to just pay," she said.

Wendi Kark, who lives in Sydenham, also received an unexplained refuse bill. "I don't have that kind of money, and even if I did, I wouldn't pay it if this is their mistake after so many years," she said. The council has since apologised. City of Joburg revenue department spokesman Kgamanyane Stan Maphologela said: "One query, one unhappy customer is one too many. This is a really undesirable and unacceptable way of dealing with our ratepayers, especially when prior notification has not been given to customers on time.

"This is not the way the city would like to interact with its customers, and we will look into ways of making payment arrangements with customers who fell in this 'refuse arrear category'," he said.

The charges related to a number of properties that were not billed for refuse over a period of three years. This included properties that were not on the original valuation roll and were subsequently brought in on the supplementary roll.

"The city invites all customers who are affected to make payment arrangements at their nearest customer service centres," Maphologela said.

The Star


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