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South Africa

Elderly Gillits couple battle eThekwini Municipality over utilities bills for old home

Durban – AN elderly Gillitts couple are at their wits’ end after trying to cancel their water and electricity bill at their old house for more than three weeks.

Lambien Paraskevopoulos said he sold his house and bought a new house in Gillitts and all the transfer duties went through at the deeds office. The “stumbling block” preventing him and his wife enjoying their new property was eThekwini municipality, he said.

The transfer of the properties was registered simultaneously on March 26, the eve of the lockdown. We’ve made several attempts by phone, email and physically visiting the Pinetown municipal offices, but have had no success finding out when exactly they will be open to the public, as we need to cancel our utility accounts at our old address and establish new ones at our new address,” he said.

Paraskevopoulos said they had tried the application on the city’s website provided for ratepayers to use during the lockdown, to no avail.

They were now frustrated as the city has not stopped billing them for their old property, even though the house was still vacant.

“All we want is to open a new utility account for our new home and cancel the old one. I’ve been trying their (municipal) website and telephone number for the past three weeks and no one is returning the calls. I can’t even apply for the pensioners’ discount because I don’t have the utility account number.

“Recently, we paid R2753 for electricity using the old house utility number and that has not been credited to us. The city’s plan on how to do things during lockdown is a total failure. This is not co-ordinated to suit us ratepayers and it’s frustrating,” he said.

On Wednesday, the city issued a notification that beneficiaries of rates rebates do not have to resubmit a renewal application. The notice said the city wanted to limit the movement of residents and would therefore automatically renew the rebates for senior citizens, those medically boarded, child-headed households and those receiving disability grants. The rebate will reflect in the July utility bills.

Municipal spokesperson Mandla Nsele said the city had not received notifications from the deeds office of sales and transfers that were processed on March 25 and 26 as this was just prior to the lockdown.

“They have since been closed and only re-opened today (Thursday). The Municipal offices too have been closed due to lockdown and services only resumed yesterday (Wednesday).”

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