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Nightclub, university and more businesses targeted by Tshwane over utility bills

11 February 2022 - 17:58
"When we say, 'no fear, no favour', we mean it," the city tweeted. Stock photo.
"When we say, 'no fear, no favour', we mean it," the city tweeted. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/citadelle

More businesses were named and shamed as the City of Tshwane continued to switch off services of customers accused of non-payment.

On Wednesday the city said its debtors’ book was standing at more than R17bn. This includes R1.3bn owed by government departments and embassies, R4bn owed by businesses and R8bn by residential customers.

The campaign was this week targeting government departments, public entities and businesses.

“We are going ahead full swing. We have about 11 teams across the city doing the inspections and switching off where we need to. The University of Pretoria is also on the list. We haven’t disconnected them yet because there’s a dispute on the amount of R34m, which is still on hold.

“Some embassies also owe us millions. We have another building that owes us R7.9m,” said Selby Bokaba, City of Tshwane spokesperson.

Rikus Delport, University of Pretoria spokesperson, confirmed there was an attempt to cut off the electricity supply to one of its campuses.

“We deny the allegation as we registered a dispute with the council last year already. In the interest of good relations, the university has decided to pay the outstanding amount pending the outcome of the dispute.

“Our lawyers are in discussions with representatives of the council and we hope they resolve the issue quickly.” Delport said.

The city said the tourism department owed R1.2m, while 147 Troye — managed by Constantia Metering — owed R5.6m and Pro-equity Court R5m.

Lawyers for Constantia Metering said in a letter it was false that 147 Troye owed R5.6m. It said its electricity account had been formally disputed with Tshwane since May 2021, but that the city habitually fails to address such complaints. The letter said Constantia had lodged disputes with the city concerning 85 buildings.

“We are at 114 Madiba Str, which houses Dept: IPID to cut off electricity. R856,932.72 owed. We are at the Dept of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development to cut services. R837, 183.54 owed,” the city tweeted.

The Flamingo Adult Entertainment Club would seemingly be liable to pay R621,000 after allegedly making an illegal connection to an adjoining premises, where the outstanding bill also ran up to R1.2m. But, the club said, the illegal connection had nothing to do with them.

The club says this puts the business at risk.

“It’s a business employing 45 people. The illegal connection is not us but a neighbouring building. How many illegal connections are there in the squatter camp? So they would rather target a business?

“We will liquidate the business and sell the property on auction; that’s the end of it. The employer is frustrated, what can they do?” said Vincent Crous, on behalf of the Flamingo Adult Entertainment Club.

Some of the government departments the city disconnected on Wednesday include the defence force, the commercial crimes court in Pretoria, infrastructure development, public works, and higher education and training. The city also switched off power to Denel's offices.

After this, the campaign will move the recollection efforts to estates, residential complexes and residential areas.

Editor's note: The story has been amended to reflect information from lawyers acting for Constantia Metering. We apologise for failing to seek comment ahead of publication

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