Hundreds of Nelson Mandela Bay’s rate payers were seen queuing at Customer Care Center, Uitenhage Town Hall and KwaNobuhle in Kariega on Thursday morning.
This comes after the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality handed them with water and electricity bills amounting to exorbitant fees, between R35 000 – R200 000, according to the residents.
Many of them were elderly citizens, who reported that they had their power and water supply cut off as a result of the unexplained municipality service charges they were billed this month.
Khayalethu Mnotoza, a resident in ward 50, KwaLanga township said,
“I arrived here at 5am to enquire as to why the municipality says I owe them R35 000 in water bill this month. The water bill statements were delivered to my house last Wednesday. They said I must pay before they can cut off power in my house,” he said.
Mnotoza, who stays with his school-going daughter, earns a disability grant of R1, 860 a month from South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).
He said he never owed the municipality any money before, except the usual month- to -month bill of R900 for municipal services such as refuse removal, prepaid electricity charges and water bill.
He went on to say that when he queried about the bizarre bill, he was told that there may be a water leak in his yard.
“Last week when I came here, the municipal officials said maybe there was a water leak in my yard.
They told me to look for a metre in my yard and jot down its number and bring it here which I did.
I insist I don’t owe them R35 000 at all and I won’t pay it because my account has always been up to date.” he said.
As the queue was long even on Friday, other rate payers said they will not vote on 1 November’s forthcoming municipal elections.
“I will never vote for all the political parties,” said Buyiswa Kula of ward 48. “They are all useless,” she added.
She said here electricity was suddenly cut off over the weekend and when she went to buy electricity, the electricity account was blocked.
“We can’t buy electricity anymore. We can’t cook, we can’t have lights on in our households. Therefore, I won’t vote. They said I owe them R11 000 in water bill.”
Nelson Mandela Bay municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said the affected rate payers were not only in KwaNobuhle or Kariega, but the whole people of the metro.
“The numbers (of people queuing at Customer Care Centres) have increased due to people failing to reapply for Assistance to the Poor Programme.” he said.
Asked for comment, Nelson Mandela Bay Mayoral Committee member for Electricity and Energy Luxolo Namette said that there are initiatives underway to assist those who qualify.
“Budget and Treasury has blocked prepaid electricity accounts so that people can come forward and apply for assistance.” he said.
*To report water leaks, shortages and abuses, residents can contact 0800 20 50 50 to lay a complaint.