The City of Joburg has threatened to take legal action against a Fairland family or discontinue their services for allegedly owing it more than R100 000 for water usage in a single month.
According to papers seen by The Citizen, Larry Friedman’s closing balance for water in November was R1 746.67.
However, in December, it mysteriously escalated to R116 106.81 and is currently R132 425.96. On January 17, the family received a pre-termination letter from the city, alleging the outstanding amount was R112 206.81 and failure to settle the balance would result in “disconnection or restriction of services or legal action being instituted against yourself without any notice”.
Friedman has been given 14 days to settle the bill. He sent a written complaint to the city’s accounts department and while still awaiting a reply from them, “…they have the audacity to put a pre-termination letter on my gate and when you phone the call centre it says ‘we are aware of the billing problems please be patient’. Really.”
Friedman said initially charges were about R1 500 for water only. “I have been up to date with account payments forever. Suddenly, my account for water nogal comes in at plus-minus R116 000.
How would we even use that much water at one house (a family of five)? Secondly, I am fully aware of the water restrictions,” said Friedman. “They are claiming on the bill 16 289kl (usage), which is equal to 16 289 000l, divided by 30 days is plus-minus 54 294.66.
Who uses 542 900l a day? That is impossible … humanly impossible.”
City spokesperson Kgamanyane Maphologela said the highly abnormal consumption for December points to a leak discovered during a site inspection done after The Citizen’s inquiry.
He said the city’s policy is that if a leak occurs outside the property or is as a result of a faulty meter then the consumer cannot be liable for the wasted water. However, if the leak is located within the boundaries of the property then the consumer will be liable for the charges.