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DA concerned by 'mass blocking' of indigent deceased estate municipal accounts

Feb 10, 2020
DA concerned by 'mass blocking' of indigent deceased estate municipal accounts

Port Elizabeth - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday said that it has come to its attention that the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro’s Budget and Treasury Department has started to block the electricity accounts of thousands of deceased estates in the Metro.

"The decision was taken as a result of some 16 000 deceased estate accounts being disqualified from the ATTP (Assistance-to-the-Poor) programme in December 2019," said Leander Kruger Cllr - Member of NMB Budget and Treasury Committee.

"When there is an immovable property (a home) in a deceased estate, the onus is on the heirs of that estate to ensure that they arrange for the transfer of that property out of the deceased estate into the names of the heirs.

"Unfortunately, given the fact that conveyancing costs for an average RDP house in the Metro can be anything upwards from R8 000 per transfer, most indigent families are unable to afford the conveyancing fees in order to finalise such processes."

She added that the Municipality has received an audit query regarding its beneficiaries of the ATTP programme.

"As a result deceased estate accounts have been advised that the occupants and/or heirs of the properties in question will have to reapply for the free basket of municipal services offered under the ATTP programme."

Kruger explained that due to the bulk blocking of these deceased estate accounts, with very little time given to the occupants and/or heirs to prevent this, hundreds of indigent residents are flocking to the Metro customer care services on a daily basis.

"They have been advised to obtain new Letters of Authority from the Master of the High Court in Port Elizabeth.

"This is done because the Metro will only start processing the new applications for ATTP when a Letter of Authority is presented in the name of the occupant," she said.

"This situation has put the offices of the Master of the High Court under tremendous strain as they are unable to deal with the floodgate of applications for Letters of Authority.

"I have written to the Acting City Manager to request an immediate moratorium on the mass blocking of the affected accounts until such a time as the Metro is able to put forward a more humane approach to council.

"Blocking the accounts of some 20% of all indigent households in the Metro, at once, is an unfair punishment of some of the poorest residents in our City. This situation has arisen as a result of the failings of Metro officials over the last number of years to manage the ATTP process."

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