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GOOD will stop Cape Town's illegal use of pre-paid electricity meters as a debt collecting mechanism

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GOOD will stop Cape Town's illegal use of pre-paid electricity meters as a debt collecting mechanism

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13th October 2021

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/ MEDIA STATEMENT / The content on this page is not written by Polity.org.za, but is supplied by third parties. This content does not constitute news reporting by Polity.org.za.

A GOOD-led City of Cape Town will place an immediate moratorium on the City's illegal practice of using pre-paid electricity meters as a debt collecting mechanism.

If GOOD is not in charge of the City after the 1 November election, the party will seek the assistance of a public interest law firm to stop the practice in court, said secretary-general Brett Herron, GOOD's mayoral candidate for Cape Town.

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The debt collecting mechanism makes it impossible for consumers to buy electricity without paying off historic water and rates debts at the same time. What it means for indebted consumers is that for every R100 they spend on electricity they receive as little as R30 in electricity units.

If you can't afford to pay your debts then you forego your rights to fair electricity provision, the City is effectively telling hard-pressed consumers.

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No family should be denied access to basic services such as water or electricity by the imposition of unaffordable tariffs.

Besides being unfair, using the pre-paid electricity meter system to forcibly exact debts from residents is unlawful because it allows the City to take the law into its own hands.

The City accords itself the powers of judge, jury and executioner, deciding – without fear of contradiction – when residents are indebted and unilaterally collecting the debt without opportunity for the consumer to dispute it.

To further mitigate against the system, in terms of the tariff regulations for electricity a consumer should get the units they pay for. If a consumer pays for R100 worth of electricity s/he should receive R100 worth of units. Not, however many units the City of Cape Town decides.

The City of Cape adds further insult to injury by imposing a mark-up on the NERSA approved electricity tariff. Many residents cannot afford electricity, and the City seems determined to keep it that way.

The City's illegal debt collecting, together with its electricity mark-ups, literally takes bread from the mouths of families. Yet the City has savings of R19 Billion in the bank, and the comfort of guaranteed income every month from its pre-paid meters.

Residents are struggling. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Rather than punish those with least to spend, the City must show that it has a conscience and that it respects the law.

 

Issued by GOOD

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