High water bills anger Litha Park residents

Hundreds of livid Ilitha Park residents protested outside the Stocks and Stocks Municipality offices in Khayelitsha.

Burning tyres, a march to the municipal offices and the issuing of an ultimatum. This is how frustrated residents of Ilitha Park in Khayelitsha gave voice to their anger over exorbitant municipal bills and what they describe as a “water crisis” in their area.

On Tuesday morning, January 29, the residents blockaded the road to the area’s municipal offices with burning tyres and marched to the Stocks and Stocks building, demanding to speak to one of the municipality’s managers.

At the core of their complaints are high water bills and malfunctioning water meters, which the residents have given authorities seven working days to address.

Local leader Derick Mtsolo said they had also noticed that the counters on some meters continued moving, even when they were disconnected.

The fed up residents claimed that they could no longer keep up with the exorbitant municipal charges and called for their bills to be scrapped.

“Enough is enough. We can no longer take this rip-off. In one month you get a R5 000 bill. The next is even more – to R10 0000 and above,” said Mr Mtsolo, who added that among those battling to pay their bills were senior citizens who survived on social grants.

“They can not cope with the bills. That’s a fact.

“You cannot bill them like everybody else. Elders are elders and are not working,” he said.

Ilitha Park resident Zukile Nkokhi Sinama said the residents would continue to fight to keep their water connected.

“Some houses have no water as we speak. Another problem that we have here is the installation of water meters without us knowing.

“That concerns us a lot. I am also of the belief that seniors citizens should not pay rates,” he told Vukani.

One resident who introduced herself only as Reverend Siyothula challenged the City to justify the high tariffs it charged for municipal services.

When Vukani asked the City to respond to the residents claims and concerns, mayoral committee member for urban management Grant Twigg said the City is unable to comment on specific cases unless the account details of the bills in question were provided.

He advised residents to query their water bills by either emailing: accounts@capetown.gov.za, or calling the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089, or visiting their local municipal offices, so that it can be investigated.“Residents must have their account number or a copy of their utility bill when enquiring.

“In general, the City offers services relief to indigent individuals such as pensioners. Residents are encouraged to apply for indigent relief at their local walk-in centres/municipal offices,” he said.