Disgruntled Buffalo City ratepayers to take legal action against the metro

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Disgruntled ratepayers in the Buffalo City Metro are taking legal steps in an effort to address the problematic billing system.

Part of their court application is to have the policy where 80% of the value of a prepaid electricity purchase is kept to service debt, to the municipality, declared unlawful.

The ratepayers are also complaining about exorbitant amounts charged as a result of meter readers that are not recording readings accurately.

The ratepayers are seeking legal advice before going to the courts against the long-standing metro’s billing system. They say, they have exhausted all municipal avenues to fix the billing challenge. Ratepayer, Ntombekhaya Hanabe says the municipality has failed them.

“At my house I am paying R1000 for electricity alone, excluding services. From that R1000 I am getting R300 units only. I went everywhere, even if I ask for someone to explain this to me, I’m sent from pillar to post.”

Community activist, Anele Ngcumbese says the municipality is charging the people a ridiculous amount.

“We want the municipality to scrap off the debts of the ratepayers because BCM is the cause of the mess. These ridicules of daylight robbery to ratepayers. So, we wrote to them they don’t respond to us. We went to protest in their offices they promised to solve the situation, they didn’t solve. They must write off all the debt.”

Brandon Blignaut of Niehaus McMahon attorneys says the policy is invalid in the eyes of the law.

“The municipality is implementing a policy which in my view is not law. A policy is only law if that policy is promulgated, passed through council and becomes a by law. The by law must be promulgated. Right now, the by law that we have does include the 80/20 deduction and that is why I’m saying their decision to apply the 80/20 deduction is unlawful until such time it becomes a bylaw.”

Buffalo City Executive Mayor Princess Faku says the municipality is looking at reviewing the policy at council level.

“Our main focus is indigent and households. We know there is a complaint on the court ruling what the court said is the 14-day notice. Reviewing which should be present in the October council.”

The application will be heard in the High Court in East London on the 12th of September.

Communities and businesses in Buffalo City Metro want the problematic billing system resolved: