Joburg Advocacy Group (JAG): 2017

Friday, 20 October 2017

PUBLIC EVENTS IN CITY PARKS


Public events in city parks can be a great source of contention at community level. As it is JAG's aim to assist the city's residents with information that may be helpful to them when engaging with the administration and with fellow residents, we thought the following information about applying for permission to organise a public event in one of the city's parks would be of assistance:

Firstly, the organisers need to "send an application to Joburg Metro Police Department to request permission under the Gatherings Act as well as to arrange any traffic assistance (they) may require".

Secondly, they need to "contact the relevant roleplayers (including City Power, Joburg Water, Disaster Management, EMS Fire Safety, Pikitup, the ward committee and the local residents' association) and send the necessary request letters." These have to be followed up to ensure that there are no objections to the event from any of the roleplayers. The ward councillor, who h,eads up the ward committee, needs to provide written consent for public events to take place in city parks. 

An event plan, including details of public liability insurance, environmental health applications relating to food service, toilets, noise etc. and a security/disaster management plan must accompany the application and, in theory, permission to hold a public event in a city park shouldn't be granted by the municipal authorities without a plan of this nature being in place.

Please also note the following provision, which appear on the event application form itself: "All relevant Public Open Space By-Laws (Published in Provincial Gazette Extraordinary No 179 dated 21 May 2004 under notice No.831) and regulations must be adhered to before, during and after the event. (For Public Park By-Laws refer to our website www.jhbcityparks.com page 5 to page 7 of this document)".

Further information is available on the CoJ's web site:

Monday, 16 October 2017

MUNICIPALITY CAN'T NAIL YOU FOR HISTORIC DEBT


The Constitutional Court has ruled that municipalities cannot hold new property owners responsible for the historic debt of previous owners. The Court has found that, contrary to claims by municipalities, they are not vested with security for historic debt over a property belonging to a new purchaser.

This will comes as a relief to buyers, many of whom have previously been forced to cough up large and unexpected amounts of money to settle the debts of previous owners in order to have their municipal services connected.

A word of caution, though: the Municipal Systems Act (Act 32 of 2000) prohibits the transfer of a property unless all debts due to the municipality in connection with the property arising over the preceding two years have been fully paid.

So if you're thinking of purchasing a property, be sure to check out whether the municipal bill for that property is in good standing or not.

More about this issue in a blog post by Bruno Simao Attorneys here.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

NOISE CONTROL REGULATIONS


Noise pollution is a growing problem in the City of Joburg and many residents are stumped as to what to do about excessive noise, whether this is due to noisy neighbours or other sources, such as business or industrial activity. 

Noise control is governed by the Environmental Conservation Act(Act 73 0f 1989). The regulations specified in the Act apply at all times and, in Johannesburg, violations can be reported to the JMPD (Call Centre: 011 758 9650 / Emergencies: 011 758 9621/3/4). Fines for violations vary, but can be as high as R1,500.00.

A summary of noise control regulations is available here. Municipal police departments often aren't aware of these national regulations, so it's worth having a copy to hand when making a noise complaint.

Friday, 11 August 2017

COMMENT ON DRAFT LAND USE SCHEME


On 7 June, the City of Johannesburg’s Development Planning Department released a draft Land Use Scheme for public comment. Based on the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act of 2103, it draws on both legislation and previous planning schemes in an attempt to put into place a single land use policy that will be applicable throughout the city.

Residents will be able to comment on the draft for two months from the date of release, and commentary should be submitted to dylanw@joburg.org.za. Public comments will be taken into consideration before the final draft is submitted to the Council for approval.

Once the Land Use Scheme has been adopted - but before it is put into  practice - there will be public workshops and consultations with interested and affected parties.

We encourage residents to read the document carefully and to take advantage of the public participation period.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

YOUR CHANCE TO GET YOUR BILLING PROBLEMS SORTED

 

Billing difficulties continue to dog the residents of Johannesburg as the new administration grapples with the legacy of chaos left by the previous administration.The new Mayor, Herman Mashaba, has personally stepped in and committed to getting the billing system back on track as soon as possible.

One of the remedies the city is offering affected residents is a series of open days; events at which they can meet with city officials face-to-face in an attempt to address unresolved billing issues once and for all.

One of these will take place this Saturday, 12 August, at Mark's Park in Emmarentia. The MMC for Finance, Rabelani Degana, will personally be on-site with his team to assist frustrated residents. Similar open days will be held in all regions of the city over the next few months. Further information is available in this report on TimesLIVE.

Monday, 7 August 2017

R12 BILLION LOST TO CORRUPTION UNDER PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION

 

The full cost of graft and corruption to the people of the City of Joburg under the previous administration is finally coming to light - and investigators estimate it's in the region of R12 billion. This staggering amount is brought into perspective when one considers that it would take nearly 32 years to count from zero to 1 billion sequentially.

Major General Shadrack Sibiya‚ who heads up the city's internal investigations unit‚ says he has been stunned by the level of corruption uncovered since his appointment by new mayor, Herman Mashaba, in November last year.

Read the full story on  TimesLIVE.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

NEW MAYOR TAKES ACTION ON BILLING CRISIS


As residents are aware, a new administration under the leadership of Executive Mayor, Councillor Herman Mashaba, took office after the local government elections in 2016. Unlike previous mayors, Mr Mashaba posts regular updates relating to his activities in the social media, which enables us to share information that we know to be verifiable.

Yesterday, the Mayor took the important step of making this announcement about the billing crisis, which has plagued residents for so many years: 
Today, I am personally taking charge of the billing crisis that continues to leave our residents suffering in the City of Johannesburg.
When I was elected as the Executive Mayor, I promised the residents that they would get our very best to relieve them of the misery they have endured at the hands of our billing system. Unfortunately, to date, they have not received this.
Upon taking office, it has taken time to analyse the full magnitude of the billing crisis in our Finance Department. We have inherited a billing system where levels of corruption and mismanagement have historically flourished in an environment of chaos and disorder. For years, the system has failed our residents and treated them with contempt.

Today I report to the residents of our City that I have put the entire leadership of the Department on terms. Either there will be resolution of the City’s Billing system or there must be consequences.

The final straw for me on this matter related a program to regionalise the billing system, with an aim to reduce the time gap between consumption and payment for services. This move had the effect of bringing forward the due date for billing approximately 3 weeks, resulting in many account holders receiving two bills in one month. Account holders who did not pay both accounts were unfairly placed into arrears, accumulating interest on arrears and being charged fees for pre-termination notices.

This is an unacceptable treatment of our residents that I condemn in the strongest possible terms.

With immediate affect I have instructed the City to address the situation as follows:
1. All residents, who have been in good standing with the City for the past 12 months prior to February 2017, and have been put into arrears by the bringing forward of payment due dates, will have their interest owing on arrears and any costs relating to pre-termination notices and disconnections reversed. This will be actioned with immediate effect and will show corrected in their September statement.
2. Regional Open Days will be held across the City going forward on Saturdays, where the City will avail itself to residents at Regional Offices and other facilities to assist residents with billing related problems.
3. A service provider has been appointed and started work on a full diagnostic investigation into the root causes of all billing inaccuracies, from which the City will drive the solutions to remedy the billing system. I commit to the residents that I will communicate regularly on the progress in this respect.
4. All key vacancies within the Department, will be filled with a matter of urgency. Senior positions such as the Group Chief Financial Officer and Group Information Technology Officer will be appointed at the August Council meeting.Other strategic positions within the Department such as Head of Revenue, Head of Accounting will be filled by 1 October 2017.
The Department has operated with over 9 Senior Acting Appointments in key positions in the Revenue Department. These positions will be filled with the very best talent available in the industry by the end of 2017.
5. Efforts will be focussed on the resolution of billing queries logged by our revenue call centre. Currently, the turnaround time, lack of feedback and customer care experienced in this regard is unacceptable. The Department has been tasked with turning this situation around and ensuring billing queries are dealt with faster, and more focus on the care of our residents.

I would like to offer the residents of our City the most sincere apology for the manner in which they have continued to suffer from both the continuation of the billing crisis, as well as this latest problem.
I offer my commitment, that I will personally be taking charge of the situation and seeing to the alleviation of the suffering our residents have endured.
This City will be a caring City, one that will put its residents ahead of all else.
If you would like to follow the Mayor on Facebook, where you can read regular updates from him, you can do so here.