Kyalami business owner accuses City of theft

Athol Franz claims the municipality has been stealing from them through incorrect water billing.

 

A business owner at Barbeque Heights, Barbeque Downs in Kyalami, is threatening to open a criminal case against the City of Johannesburg should it fail to resolve a billing fiasco.

Athol Franz, who owns the media company African Pilot, is furious over incorrect water billing by the City which has not been resolved for almost two years. He said about 18 months ago they started receiving very high water bills.

“Despite many requests from Targer Properties, our agents, the bills refer to our own water meter number and then another ‘unknown’ water meter,” he said.

Franz said this all began after the City replaced old water meters with new installations where the pipe comes out of the ground and the meter is situated on top of the pipe. He added that the old water meter was taken away and does not exist on the seven-unit property.

“We suspect that this is the unknown meter that has probably been installed elsewhere and we are paying for this water. The City is committing fraud. This is downright theft and if it does not get resolved I will go and open a theft case at the police station.”

Furthermore, he said they have contacted the City on numerous occasions to sort out the matter but instead all they get is exuberant water bills each month. “If we don’t pay it the City sends letters from the lawyers and threatens to cut us off. Would you have thought that the billing fiasco at the City of Johannesburg would continue well after the Democratic Alliance took over the governing of the City, but the situation appears to have become worse.”

Ward 132 councillor Annette Deppe said she was aware of the matter and she had escalated it to the former MMC of Finance, Rabelani Dagada, but had not received any response. She said she also took the matter to the City manager but also received no response.

“I had to go to Mayor Herman Mashaba and inform him about it,” she said.

Deppe said she has forwarded Franz’ complaint to the new MMC for Finance, Funzela Ngobeni. “Hopefully the issue would now be resolved soon.”

Spokesperson for the finance MMC, Deidre Hendricks, had not responded to questions by the time of publishing.

What do you think the municipality should do to respond faster to complaints? Tweet us @MidrandReporter

  AUTHOR
Lungile Dube

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