Elder’s R1million bill

Nancy Magobolo received a bill of more than R1 million from the City of Cape Town.

Gugulethu pensioner Nancy Magobolo has had sleepless nights after she received a municipal bill for more than
R1 million.

Ms Magobolo has been sitting with the bill for about two months now, with no idea of how she would pay it.

And to make matters worse, her water was cut two weeks ago without any warning.

However, there may be some hope for Ms Magobolo.

Spokesperson for the City of Cape Town, Hayley van der Woude, told Vukani that they were aware of the matter and that Ms Magobolo had been identified to benefit from the indigent leaks project. “A one-time debt write-off associated with the indigent leaks project will be processed this month and a new water saving device will be installed,” she said.

When Vukani visited Ms Magobolo on Friday October 20, the limping 73 year old was carrying two five-litre water bottles which had been given to her by neighbours.

She shares her four-roomed house with her nine children including grandchildren who are all unemployed and depend on her social grant. An emotional Ms Magobolo said she nearly fainted when she received the bill. She couldn’t understand how she ended up owing the City so much money.

Unsure what to do or who to call, Ms Magobolo visited the nearby City offices in the area and highlighted her problems but was referred to their offices at the Civic Centre in Cape Town.

But she claims that she had been sent from pillar to post without any of the officials being able to provide clear answers for her enquiry and instead, she received hostile treatment.

“Instead of helping me, the officials asked why did I not pay the rates and services. But I told them that I never received any bill before. I asked the officials to explain how did I end up having a massive bill, but none of them could provide me with a straight or clear answer. I will never be able to pay this bill. My health has taken a massive knock because of this thing. Where will I get the money to pay this bill. This bill is slowly but sure killing me,” she said.

Ms Magobolo said workers from the City claimed that they were fixing her water meter box but after they left there was no water supply and since then they have never returned.

Ms Magobolo said they had been forced to plead for water from their neighbours, something she described as uncomfortable and humiliating.

She explained that sometimes they do not cook and have to buy bread and something to drink because they do not have water.

“We are no longer able to do our laundry. We wear our clothes for a week and for children it’s hard,” she said.

Ms Magobolo said she was told that she needed to apply for an indigent grant and she got a message to say her application has been successful.

She said the house belonged to her parents who used to pay the municipal bills. When her mother died in the late 90s she took over the payments of R20 a month and she said she has never skipped a month.

But she said before she received the bill she received a letter stating that she would have to pay an increased amount of R700 a month.

She said she informed the authorities that she would never be able to pay that amount and they reached an agreement that she must pay R190 a month.

Ms Magobolo said they never received a title deed for the house and that it belonged to the City.