Johannesburg residents decry inexplicably high municipal bills

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City of Johannesburg residents have complained about high water and electricity bills over the last few months. Some residents have complained about an increase in their rates by as much as 70%.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) says it has also received a number of queries. This is beyond the annual increases that were effected in July.

Clive Benson from Fairland, north of Johannesburg, is perplexed about his water and electricity bill.

In May  his electricity bill was just over R3, 300 and water was R3000.

In June, the electricity shot up to R11 000 and water went down by half. This is despite load-shedding forcing him to use his generator many times during the month.

Benson says this is not the first time his bill has fluctuated for no apparent reason.

“From R3 300 to R11 900 and I’ve got meters on my geyser so that it comes on at only certain times of the day. It doesn’t come on all the time. It only comes on at specific times and never in peak period. So, I don’t understand it.”

Benson is not the only resident complaining.

The SABC has noticed similar complaints on neighbourhood Facebook groups. While rates have gone up in July, it appears that the complaints are not just confined to the annual increase.

Outa also says it had a number of queries.

The organisation’s Wayne Duvenage says residents should also check if their property evaluation has not been adjusted.

“We are seeing a lot of complaints with regards to increases in bills in the city of Joburg it appears to be a combination of electricity increases and tariffs obviously there is going to increase in electricity in the cold winter months with bills on a consumption basis, but one sees tariff increases across the board and various fees and this is becoming a concern for citizens,” says Duvenage.

Residents of the City of Johannesburg have had to struggle with high bills over the years with former mayor Herman Mashaba making the issue central in his campaign. But by the time he left, there were still residents that had unsettled billing issues.

City of Johannesburg Spokesperson, Nthatisi Modingoane says the discrepancies this time around are due to the limitations the COVID-19 pandemic has put on the city.

“The city is aware of the discrepancies in some of the bills and this is as a result of not being able to read meters in the month of April due to COVID-19 and we have as such communicated to our customers and informed them to say if they can they can also submit their meter readings.”

Residents can e-mail the city about their bills on creditcontrol@joburg.org.za.