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As municipal tariffs increase, consumers say they can’t keep up with the rising cost of living

‘My basket is emptier every month,' says Soweto pensioner

01 July 2022 - 13:50
Between the high cost of petrol, load-shedding and increases in the cost of services, South Africans are increasingly cash-strapped. File photo.
Between the high cost of petrol, load-shedding and increases in the cost of services, South Africans are increasingly cash-strapped. File photo.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

A grocery basket that grows lighter every month, switching to less healthy food items, cancelled gym or television subscriptions and personal treats cut from the budget. These are among the measures some South Africans have taken to stretch their money in tough economic times and faced with rising costs.

From Friday, tariff increases in many municipalities will kick in. Consumers will see increases of between 3.5% and 13.5% for services.

Residents told TimesLIVE they are not ready for this as their budgets are stretched and they have already cut back on spending.

Pensioner Elize Smith, who lives in Randburg, said she has no idea how she will survive the coming months. 

“I don’t have anywhere else to cut. I’m worried some of the cuts will compromise my health. I’ve cut fresh milk from my diet and use powdered milk. I can no longer afford to buy fruit, vegetables and vitamin supplements,” she said.

How the cost of living has gone up.
How the cost of living has gone up.
Image: Nolo Moima

With the City of Joburg’s rate increases kicking in on Friday, Smith said she has no idea how she will pay for them.

“This will be the first time in my life that I will default on paying for services. It has come to the point where we must choose whether to eat or pay for municipal services,” she said.

Pensioner Mittah Mmusi from Soweto, who relies on a government social grant, said times were very tough. She said the R95 increase she received in April this year was not enough to cover the rising cost of living.

Pensioner Mittah Mmusi says she is not coping with the rising cost of living.
Pensioner Mittah Mmusi says she is not coping with the rising cost of living.
Image: Belinda Pheto

“It’s like it was not increased at all. Every time I visit a grocery store, prices have gone up. We are struggling,” she said.

Mmusi feeds her two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren with her social grant. She said every month when she goes to buy groceries, she has to leave one item she bought the previous month because of price increases.

“My basket is emptier every month. Even what we previously knew as cheaper brands are getting expensive. There is no easy way out for us,” she said.

Randy Maduma from Soweto said last year she was able to supplement her income with a side hustle. She sold clothes, but said because everyone is having a hard time, people are no longer buying from her.

“Basically my side hustle is dying and I’m not sure how I’ll survive. Previously, I had takeaways once a week. Now I do them once a month. That’s how bad things are. By the looks of things, at the end of this month I will no longer be able to eat out,” she said.

Jethro Khoza from Krugersdorp said he had no idea how he will make ends meet. He has not had a salary increase since 2020, and since then “we are paying almost double what we paid in 2020 for many things”.

Khoza said he has cancelled his gym membership and instead jogs on the road to stay fit and healthy.

“Unfortunately I don’t get to see the savings from that because everything is so expensive. I have also downgraded our DStv subscription to a cheaper package but even there, I don’t get to see the savings because everything is expensive,” he said.

In Tshwane:

  • property rates will increase by 6%; 
  • refuse removal by 6%;
  • electricity by 7.47%;
  • water tariffs by 9%; and
  • sanitation charges by 9%. 

In Joburg:

  • property rates will increase by 4.85%;
  • electricity by 7.47%;
  • water by 9.75%;
  • sanitation by 9.75%; and
  • refuse removal by 5%.

In Ekurhuleni:

  • the refuse removal tariff will increase by 7%;
  • electricity by 9.61%; and
  • water and sanitation removal by 11%.

In Cape Town:

  • rates will increase by 4.5%; 
  • electricity by 13.5%;
  • water by 5%;
  • sanitation by 5%; and
  • refuse removal by 3.5%

In eThekwini:

  • there will be no increase in property rates;
  • water tariff increases by 5.9% for residential and 9% for business;
  • electricity by 7.47%; and
  • sewerage increases by 5.9% for residential and 9% for business.

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