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Herron wants probe into pre-paid electricity deductions for City's debt recovery

2 December 2021 1:06 PM
Tags:
Brett Herron
City of Cape Town
Good Party
deductions
municipal arrears
pre paid electricity

Presenter Zain Johnson chats to the Good Party's Brett Herron about the City of Cape Town's debt-collection practices.
  • The Good Party's Brett Herron has called the City of Cape Town's debt collection practices into question
  • Herron has asked the Public Protector to investigate the City's deduction of prepaid electricity purchases as a way to claim back municipal arrears
  • He says he does not believe that the City's strategy is legal or in line with the National Electricity Act

Patricia de Lille and Brett Herron at the Good party manifesto launch. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN.

The Good Party has questioned the legality of how the City of Cape Town recovers its debt from prepaid electricity users.

The City deducts a large percentage of prepaid electricity purchases from households that have outstanding municipal accounts, including water, rates, and refuse.

According to the Good Party's Brett Herron, the municipality deducts between 30% and 90% of pre-paid electricity purchases.

This is done without giving consumers the opportunity to dispute that they are in arrears or that an offence was committed giving rise to a fine or penalty, he says.

Herron has asked the Public Protector to investigate the legality of a debt recovery process in the absence of a judgment and a warrant of execution.

I don't think the City can take the law into its own hands and simply take funds from you.

Brett Herron, Secretary-general - Good Party

He also wants the Public Protector to determine whether or not the practice is in line with the National Electricity Act and other relevant legislation.

Herron says the City’s debt collection practice victimises and re-victimises poor and indigent families, in particular.

"I don't think that that is a humane way of providing basic services and I think we need to change that system", he tells CapeTalk.

The impact is really felt mostly by poor communities, vulnerable communities, and almost helpless communities who are not able to fight back.

Brett Herron, Secretary-general - Good Party

The question is whether... you can even call this debt-collecting because the debt hasn't yet been determined by any court of law... and whether that is a legal process.

Brett Herron, Secretary-general - Good Party

The City decides that you owe it money, it acts as the judge and then issues itself the powers to unilaterally take funds from you when you go and purchase prepaid electricity.

Brett Herron, Secretary-general - Good Party

The question I've asked the Public Protector to consider is, firstly, whether this is a lawful debt-collecting process, which I think it is not... secondly, the National Electricity Act is very specific about what you can charge and there is a provision in the act which excludes other charges being used in the tarriff system.

Brett Herron, Secretary-general - Good Party



2 December 2021 1:06 PM
Tags:
Brett Herron
City of Cape Town
Good Party
deductions
municipal arrears
pre paid electricity

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