Councillor Lyndal Singh and affected resident, Ruth David seen with the exorbitant bill of over R6 million

A Phoenix family was stunned when they received their utility bill for the month of April, which reflected an exorbitant amount of R6.5 million from eThekwini Municipality. Speaking to The Phoenix Tabloid Ruth David (52) from Sastripark, said that she was shocked upon receiving a print out of her utility status at the Phoenix Rent Office recently. “I couldn’t believe that I was being charged R6.5 million when I’ve previously never been in arrears with my lights and water. Our monthly bill usually comes to R1600 and the highest we’ve paid was R1800,” said David.

She said upon enquiring about the bill, she was advised by a member of the public who was also at the Rent Office to seek help from a councillor. “I approached Councillor Lyndal Singh who offered to assist me with the matter. She assured me that she will sort it out and have the charges reversed and rectified,” added David.

Councillor Singh said ratepayers are still faced with the challenges of incorrect billing for their water and electricity accounts three years since the implementation of the Revenue Management System. “The Democratic Alliance has been stating from the beginning that this is a failed system, where residents pay the brunt. The Davids have been diligent payers to the municipality with no arrears yet receive a bill for over R6 million in a month’s billing. I have made representations to the Revenue Department on behalf of the Davids, to have their bill rectified. The issue is currently being addressed,” said Singh.

She said the municipality has a total disregard for the community, especially the senior citizens, or else they would have rectified this already flawed system, preventing unnecessary stress on residents. “The municipality continues to use the multi-million rand flawed RMS system to bill residents and estimated consumptions exceed normal household usage on a monthly basis. Despite residents paying their accounts on time, they are still disconnected and some residents still don’t receive the electricity bills due to the RMS system which leads to the build-up of longer queues at the Sizakala centres,” said Singh.

She advised residents to fill a dispute form at the Sizakala Centres when facing a similar problem. “Whilst the dispute is being attended too, one’s electricity will not be cut until the dispute is resolved. I also urge residents not to fill the credit authority agreement form because it doesn’t guarantee that one’s electricity won’t be cut. If residents receive no joy from the Sizakala Centres, they are urged to contact their respective Ward Councillors for further queries,” Singh added.

EThekwini spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela said that high bills can be caused by underground water leaks, leaking geysers, excessive water usage, non-payment, not making sufficient payments to their accounts as per utility statement or late payments, a faulty meter, incorrect meter reading, leaking meter, illegal connections and many more other possible causes. “If a customer receives a utility account statement with a huge bill, he can do the following: Contact the Telkom Toll-free number: 080 13 13 013, WhatsApp: 073 148 3477, email: eservices@durban.gov.za or SMS 43554,” Mayisela said.