The Freedom Front Plus has hailed a victory for the residents of the Ngwathe Municipality who received enormous bills from the municipality.
The FF Plus, on behalf of the residents of Ngwathe Municipality – which encompasses Parys, Heilbron, Vredefort, Edenville and Koppies – lodged a complaint with the Public Protector over the erroneous bills.
Some residents received electricity bills for R116 066.85, R57 994.82 for water use and R29 506.04 for electricity usage respectively.
The party says that the municipality issued the accounts in spite of a council decision, taken in June 2016, to write off all municipal service fees older than three years in arrears. The debt was either not written off or incorrectly noted on the accounts.
The FF Plus approached the Public Protector to investigate reports of meters not being checked regularly, readings not recorded correctly and the municipality making mistakes in its calculations of the accounts. The PP found that the municipality was negligent in issuing the accounts. Readings for water and electricity usage were reportedly not taken for quite some time.
In some cases, the PP found that the cost of repaying the debt fell on the Department of Public Works from whom the resident was renting.
The PP advised the municipality to write off the outstanding debt of the residents in question, and said that losses incurred by the municipality would be as a result of poor financial management and incompetent officials.
The FF Plus hailed the decision and findings of the PP as a “victory for the consumers and residents of Ngwathe”, while at the same time condemning officials of the ANC-governed municipality for not doing their jobs properly.