Joburg Advocacy Group (JAG): BILLING CRISIS UPDATE

Thursday, April 5, 2012

BILLING CRISIS UPDATE



Folks, we continue to receive a lot of complaints from residents with long-standing and unresolved billing disputes. Over the past few days, some have even been in tears because the city is demanding that they make arrangements to pay disputed amounts of as much as R80,000 or face cut-offs.

So just a reminder about two things:

1. To demand payment of an incorrect or disputed amount under threat of any kind is CRIMINAL EXTORTION. If an official demands payment under these circumstances, you have the option of laying a criminal charge against the city at any SAPS station. You'll need to name the Mayor, Parks Tau, and the City Manager, Trevor Fowler, as respondents.

2. If the city cuts your services despite the fact that your account is in dispute and you have a legitimate reference number, IT IS IN VIOLATION OF A HIGH COURT ORDER handed down on 15 December last year (2011). The order was obtained by Schindlers Attorneys (www.schindlers.co.za). Please notify Schindlers in the event of your services being cut even if your account is in dispute.

Also, if you have an unresolved billing dispute, please log a complaint with the PRESIDENTIAL HOTLINE on 17737 - we need the Presidency to get a real idea of the nature and extent of the problem, as well as of the fact that it's not going away. There is also the option of logging your complaint on the independent service delivery web site, Mobilitate.


Finally, for your information, the following is a copy of a letter recently sent to a resident still battling with the same billing issue after two years:

We're so sorry to hear you’re still struggling with your municipal account, but rest assured you’re not alone.  

From our side, we’ve done everything we possibly could to find resolutions to the billing crisis - for both individual residents and residents as a whole. We’ve lobbied every level of government and all of the oversight agencies, including the Human Rights Commission, which didn’t even respond to our many attempts to have this addressed as a rights issue. And, as you know, we’ve been running a very aggressive media and social media campaign for quite some time now, obtaining extensive coverage both at home and abroad.

In fact, we’ve logged well over 1,000 voluntary hours working on this and other issues in a little over 12 months. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that advocacy only works within a system that’s at least notionally functional, which ours clearly isn’t. 

We’re of the opinion that the failure of local government – and the parallel failure of provincial and national government to deal with this failure effectively – now has a momentum of its own, and that very little other than meaningful system change will halt or reverse the process. Without that, we feel our only expectation can be chronic and progressive system failure.

Please let us know if you manage to get your problem sorted out. We agree with you – it’s as much a matter of principle as anything else. There are about 1.3 million account holders in the City of Joburg. If only 8% of those have an average dispute of R5,000, that amounts to R52 million. And, as many individual disputes are much higher, we estimate the amount under dispute to be considerably more than that.

4 comments:

Sue said...

Good day
We as a Sectional Title Body Corporate in Florida would like to make use of your help.

They demand R600,000 from us and we dispute the account as they mysteriously replaced the meter without anyone of us knowing. Please advise.

Joburg Advocacy Group said...

Regretfully, the Joburg Advocacy Group is no longer active, as it was impossible to continue operating on a voluntary and self-funded basis. This site is now an archive and is available for information purposes only.

You'll need to begin by logging a complaint about your bill with Joburg Connect (see sidebar for contact details) and, if you don't have any luck, you'll need to contact your ward councilor for assistance.

Further information is available under the heading 'Joburg Billing Crisis Resources - also in the sidebar.

councilsolutions said...

Hi, if you are still having issues, try councilsolutions@gmail.com or 0789412241

LC said...

Sue - Just to let you know that Council Solutions offers a paid service and that we haven't worked with them, so don't know whether or not they offer a quality service. If you'd like to contact them, though, the service they offer may be worth investigating.

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