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The Mayor of Ngwathe Local Municipality, Cllr MJ Mochela has encouraged residents to pay municipality services, particularly those who are eligible to pay and further purchase electricity at the municipality and other legal outlets. The municipality owes Eskom account millions and millions of rands due to electricity theft.
As part of Operation Tsipolla, the municipality is currently implementing strict measures against defaulters including beneficiaries of illegal consumption of electricity that is putting the lives of innocent people and loyal rate payers at risk.
The operation which includes electricity meter auditing while verifying payment of municipal services, started with businesses before moving to residential sites. Most of the findings, were unbelievable in a terrible manner, during the visit to these outlets, including physiotherapists, restaurants, liquor stores, furniture shops even residential sites of owners of some of these stores, it was discovered that they have been stealing electricity, deliberately, there are even audio recording where the person who has been supplying illegal electricity making a confession, she even supplied a physiotherapist and other outlets with illegal electricity in Parys.
Some of the individuals who are constantly complaining about the Eskom electricity situation, have not been purchasing electricity from the municipality outlets but from these illegal runners. They even failed to produce evidence of purchase for unlimited units on their meter boxes while there was no record of purchase in the municipal system.
One of the stores was found with illegal electricity to the value of R32 000 and the units were written off immediately. The municipal revenue exceeded R233 000 within twenty four hours of the implementation of the operation, while the finance department was still receiving payments from other 231 defaulters, in Parys only. Out of 22 visits on the first day of the operation, it was discovered that all of them were on illegal consumption and 13 of them made immediate payments after being fined and disconnected.
Most of the estate properties and apartments have not been purchasing electricity from the municipality for years, while their electricity meters were deliberately tampered with by allegedly private electricians employed by owners of those buildings. Most of these property owners were so unfriendly to municipal electricians who were accompanied by the acting municipal manager and other senior managers.
“We also received tip off regarding illegal electricity distribution benefitting big businesses in Bree Street, in Parys. This operation shall continue until every business and house hold is visited and verified, we further request cooperation in this regard” Steve Naale, Ngwathe Municipality spokesperson.
Mayor Mochela expressed her disappointment “We are so disappointed that people who are making such huge amounts of money, could steal electricity while we owe Eskom millions and millions of rands because of these acts. These are big businesses that we even support as the municipality, even during activities such Flower Festival and other events taking place in our municipality”
Furthermore, Mayor Mochela has expressed appreciation regarding progress and development made by intergovernmental stakeholders that are assisting the municipality on Eskom issues such as payment plans and service level agreements. These stakeholders comprising Eskom, SALGA Free State, Department of the Premier, Fezile Dabi District Municipality, Provincial Task Team and other role players who are putting ideas together to come up with initiatives to, inter alia, payment plan while avoiding escalation of debt account and management of electricity revenue. Mayor Mochela also emphasized that the municipality is comfortable with the role played by Eskom even on tariff issues. There shall be further task team meetings and public participation to advance outstanding matters including requirements and conditions on the Eskom account while looking at common issues on both Eskom’s Operation Khanyisa and Ngwathe’s Operation Tsipolla.
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