It is sadly a common cause that business owners and the community residents across South Africa receive incorrect billing and as a result, disconnections from municipalities.
Our law however, compels the municipality to provide for, and be responsible for essential service delivery, which includes the effective management of correct billing and charges for water, electricity and sanitation, same is regulated by inter alia the Municipal System Act.
In terms of Section 102(2) of the aforesaid Act, citizens have the right to complain should they want to dispute an inaccurate reading (quite often ‘estimates’ in our experience), irregular amounts due, and suspicious or irregular tariff increases.
Moreover, the municipality is obliged to inter alia prove its accounts.
Our common law supports this position.
In Mkontwana v Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality 2005(1) SA 530 (CC), the court held as follows:
“It is necessary for all municipalities to ensure that they have reasonably accurate records and that they are able to provide complete, credible, comprehensible and reasonable detailed information in relation to consumption charges that are owing within a reasonable time of being requested to furnish it”
It should be noted, however, that should you regularly skip payments for municipal services, or if your account is in arrears, the municipality has a right (after giving notice) to disconnect your services.
The aforesaid dispute procedure, if made in good faith, has been supported by our Courts, and may assist persons in the same position.
Should you have any queries, or require assistance with a related matter, kindly contact our office to schedule a consultation to discuss same.
Written by Musa Mativandlela (Candidate Attorney)