Water meter dispute

Mzwandile Mdlankomo showing all his correspondence and water bills to Vukani.

A “leaking” water pipe has resulted in a war of words between the City of Cape Town and a Gugulethu pensioner, Mzwandile Mdlankomo.

The 66-year-old pensioner is accusing the City of billing him for water he never used, while the City maintains there is nothing wrong with its billing system.

The City and Mr Mdlankomo have been at each other’s throats for as long as a decade now. The Luyoloville resident says he got his plot in 2006, but only moved on to it in 2008.

He claims that before he even moved on to the plot the City had started billing him, even though there was no water meter.

He said even when he moved to the plot there was still no meter. He had had to apply for it and paid R1 800.

Mr Mdlankomo said he immediately raised his concerns with the City about the erroneous billing. Despite his appeal, he claimed the City continued to bill him, eventually switching off his water supply last year.

He said he resorted to approaching the office of the Public Protector, which referred the matter to the City Ombudsman.

In a letter dated November 10, 2016, the Ombudsman promised to resolve the complaint within 90 days, but Mr Mdlankomo hasn’t heard anything since then.

A City official told Vukani the matter was with the city manager and promised to call us back as soon as the manager was available.

Mr Mdlankomo said: “I just do not understand how they do things. The City once told me that there was a meter on my plot but it was stolen.

“I asked, if it was stolen where was it and how was it working while stolen. I also asked them to show me but was later told there was no meter, so I had to apply and pay R1 800. It was after the payment that my water meter was installed,” he said.

Mr Mdlankomo said he wanted the matter resolved, because it was causing him stress. “I resorted to turning to the newspaper because I do not know what else I could do or where I should run to. “But I am not prepared to pay for something that I never used. They rationed me with water now. I would not say I have water, it is dripping. This is after the office of the Public Protector told them it is wrong to switch off water,” said the fuming pensioner.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, said Mr Mdlankomo took ownership of the property from 2006, and was therefore liable for the water and sanitation charges from the registration date.

She added that City records showed that his account was written off in 2013, as part of the City’s indigent project. She said the current outstanding amount was for water and sewerage after the write-off in 2013.

But Mr Mdlankomo maintained that he moved into the site in 2008, and there was no water meter.