Despite not having a municipal sewer line on his property, Sergio Segalla has been receiving bills from the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) which he refuses to pay as he uses a septic tank system. The nearest municipal sewerage line is, according to Sergio, close to 500m away.
Sergio has owned his plot on Malcolm Road for 26 years without ever having any sewer availability on the property, but ever since September 2016 he has been receiving bills from the municipality charging him for ‘sewer availability’ on his property. The first bill that he received stated that he owed the municipality in excess of R15 000 for his ‘sewer availability’.”I refuse to pay for a service that is not even available on my property, but I will keep paying for my utilities,” said Sergio. True to his word, Sergio has been paying his water and electricity bill every month, without fail, but has not paid anything towards the outstanding amount for the ‘sewer availability’.
Sergio has on numerous occasions since September 2016 taken the issue up with CoJ, but his efforts have thus far been in vain as he still receives a bill with the outstanding amount. During one of his visits to the offices in Jorissen Street in Braamfontein last October, he encountered a gentleman who allegedly told him that if he “pays for his water then he must keep paying for the sewer”. At the same time however, another gentleman told him to provide proof that he has a septic tank, and then the issue would be resolved and the fees would be reversed.
However, even after Sergio provided proof that a so-called honey sucker truck came to clean out his septic tank system, they did not reverse the fees. Fast forward to 30 January this year and Sergio received his first pre-termination notice from CoJ, with yet another coming on 15 March, saying that if he did not settle the outstanding fees, he would be cut off.
Sergio had his power cut on 20 June, but luckily for him and the ice cream factory he has on site, his generator switched on. He would make more attempts at contacting CoJ to restore his power, but to no avail. Eventually Sergio reconnected the wires himself, through the meter, so that he could still be billed for his usage.
Yet again true to his word, Sergio paid his dues for his property’s utilities in July. At the time of writing, his circuit breaker had still not been put back. According to the latest bill he received from CoJ, the amount that Sergio ‘owes’ is in excess of R75 000.
Ward 97 Councillor and MMC for Social Development, Leah Knott, stated that the issue has been raised with the billing department, which has in turn escalated it to Joburg Water. “I escalated to billing to correct the account and to reconnect him. Billing then escalated it to JW [Joburg Water] to confirm the septic tank,” Leah explained.
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