Cape Town – The ANC in the Western Cape has urged residents with high water bills to come forward and join it in a litigation case against the City of Cape Town.
“Our goal is to get more litigants to get relief. We plan on embarking on a door-to-door campaign this week and we want people to come forward,” ANC’s Western Cape elections head, Ebrahim Rasool, said.
In September, the party filed court papers to challenge increased water tariffs after it claimed it had received several complaints from residents who said they faced “ludicrous” water bills.
The party filed papers in the Western Cape High Court in a bid to launch a “class-action suit”. Papers were filed just days after the City announced the relaxing of water restrictions and a lowering of tariffs.
The class-action suit was filed on behalf of four residents, Patrick Festus, Arthur Theys, Januel Hector and Lameez Souma, and sought to have all water and sanitation tariffs increases set aside.
It also wanted certain sections of the City’s Water Amendment by-law declared unconstitutional.
The ANC also wanted the City interdicted from disconnecting residents’ water supply.
“The fact of the matter is that the DA made a profit of R1 billion from these water bills and they are trying their best to get a court date for this matter to be heard after the elections.
“We will try our best to get a judgment on this as soon as possible.
“We cannot let the DA hide behind the abuse.”
He said the campaign would start in Mitchells Plain and would target elderly people who have high water bills.
Mayoral committee member for water and waste, Xanthea Limberg rejected claims that the City made a profit on the water bills.
“Based on current levels of consumption, the water and sanitation service is potentially at risk of under recovering for this financial year.
“All political parties have the freedom to launch any campaign that they feel will benefit them at the polls.
“There is no need for residents to pursue costly legal interventions in querying their accounts.
“Every resident is free to have their individual cases investigated on their own merit should they wish to do so.”
Sandra Dickson from service delivery advocacy group STOP COCT said: “This is an opportunity for all residents with high and incorrect bills to come forward and state their cases.
“I really hope that people will heed this call and make use of it. People were left on their own to take on the City as individuals. They were also told that they had to pay their account before the City would investigate.
“Where people fell in arrears after making arrangements to pay off their accounts, the City deducted this arrears money from pre-paid electricity.
“People received notices of demands to pay as well as notices of disconnection of water. Very few people successfully resolved these water issues with the City.”