5. Global Gazette

Joburg complex wins over R12 million electricity bill

Joburg complex wins over R12 million electricity bill


A bill of R12 million for electricity, four disconnections and months of stress - all down to a credit of R100 000.

That is the sorry tale of the Rondebosch complex in Weltevreden Park.

The Rondebosch complex in Weltevreden Park.

The desperate body corporate decided to get attorneys in to sort the account out after it initially received a bill of R8.5m in June last year.

Attorney Gabriel da Matta said investigations were conducted and the meter was found to be faulty.

'We liaised with the city to have a new meter installed, which was duly done. We then demanded that the city, after a three-month period, use the average readings and apply that back to the period when the meter was faulty to represent a more accurate depiction of what Rondebosch would have consumed during the period.

'The three-month period lapsed on June 31 and we had still not received accounts,' he said.

The latest invoice was standing at over R12m.

In the meantime, City Power contractors attempted four times to disconnect electricity, succeeding once.

'No pre-termination notice in terms of the city's by-laws was served. To add further insult, a City Power contractor requested a R3 000 bribe from Rondebosch to reconnect the electricity which was rejected.

'However, after being told that they would not get reconnected and the entire complex would be plunged into darkness, the technician was offered R1 500 and the transaction was videotaped,' said Da Matta.

'Finally, someone from City Power who understood the problem contacted us and sorted the problem out within two days', he said.

City Power managing director Sicelo Zulu acknowledged the complaints of an incorrect and inflated billing due to a faulty meter.

'In the event of incorrect billing generated by a defective meter, we use average customer consumption over the last three months before the meter was faulty, or we use customer consumption after the new meter was installed to determine how much electricity the customer consumed until the faulty meter is fixed.'

The lapse in customer service resulted in this intervention not happening timeously, resulting in another exorbitant bill being incorrectly served to the customer.

'Disturbingly, the aggrieved customer was disconnected and was further incorrectly informed that they would be reconnected in 72 hours.

'More distressingly, City Power was also informed that a technician who is known to both the customer and the utility solicited a bribe to fast-track reconnection,' he said.

This matter was bought to the attention of City Power and the utility acted swiftly by undertaking the following steps:

City Power can confirm that the contractor who allegedly solicited the bribe is a new employee who joined the utility on August 1. City Power has taken up the matter and has been in liaison with the legal representative of the customer.

City Power representatives hope to meet the customer shortly to gather the facts and evidence before it hands over the case to the law enforcement authorities as it is a criminal matter.

Electricity has been reconnected to the customer and the incorrect billing will be corrected using the consumption prior to the meter being faulty. The faulty meter is still to be addressed as there is technical glitch that needs to be fixed.

'Our risk department is hard at work rooting out employees and individuals who have been implicated in maladministration and corruption.

'We wish to appeal to our customers to inform us of any employees whose conduct compromises the high ethical standards City Power upholds.

'We have zero tolerance of corruption and fraud. Our customers are our lifeblood and we condemn with the utmost contempt any overt or inferred solicitation of bribes from the law-abiding residents of Joburg. This is an unfortunate and isolated incident by a rogue employee and we wish to assure our customers that matter will be dealt with accordingly.

'Many of our employees and contractors are honest and hard-working individuals who serve our customers with diligence and integrity.

'On behalf of City Power and its management team, I wish to apologise unreservedly to the customer for the experience they went through.

'I wish to assure them that this conduct is not a reflection of the values that City Power espouses,' said Xulu.

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