Ricochet News

Port Elizabeth man wants Mayor to disconnect services to his siblings and to clear his name

By Afikile Lugunya - Jul 4, 2017
Port Elizabeth man wants Mayor to disconnect services to his siblings and to clear his name

For Port Elizabeth resident, Sifiso Thwala*, there are only two things he wants from Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip. He wants the Mayor to intervene and disconnect services to a house where his siblings are residing and clear his name from the huge municipal debt  associated with the house.

Thwala told RNEWS that it all began when his late grandmother’s house was registered under his name. According to him, his grandmother passed away in 2006.

“In White Location, New Brighton, some of the houses were registered under the elderly people - my grandmother was one of them, before she passed away.

“Some time later, after her passing, the municipality suddenly closed our water and the electricity. When we went to the municipal offices to get an explanation of what had happened, they told us that the house needed to be registered in the name of a living person, who will pay the electricity and water," he described.

Thwala described how, together with his siblings, they decided that the house would be registered under his name.

“While we decided the house was going to be registered under my name, we agreed that the responsibilities of paying the bills would be divided between me and my cousin brother," he added.

“However, in 2011, I decided that I was old enough and that it was time to move out and find my own place.”

Thwala said that he managed to secure a bond for his own house.

“That was when I realised that I wouldn’t be able to afford the responsibilities of paying for both my house and my grandmother’s house," he said.

“My cousin brother and I went to the municipality to try to change the 'ownership' of my grandmother's house.

“Unfortunately, we were not successful in doing that as we were told that this house needed be registered under the same name for a period of 8 years before any transfers. So, I was stuck with paying for that house and for my own house."

But soon, his predicament got worse.

“In 2013, I discovered that those staying at my grandmother's house were no longer paying the electricity anymore,” he said.

"In fact, the electricity was tempered with - and I heard a municipal official allegedly participated in that, under a condition that they pay off their electricity debt within a year.”

Again, he approached the municipality for assistance. 

“The person, who was helping us deal with the municipal things told us that he would help those staying at the house have electricity for a few months until the payments are resolved then everything would get back to normal," Thwala said.

“Unfortunately, my siblings didn’t pay up - even after they received their bonuses, instead they again tempered with the electrical box to avoid payments.

“On top of that, they locked the gate and put dogs on the yard, to stop municipal officials from visiting the house to check the electrical and water metres for the monthly bills.”

Unfortunately for Thwala’s siblings, the dogs failed to do their job. He soon received a court order that could see him losing his own house.

“In September 2016, the gate was left open and the municipal officials were able to enter into the premises. They went straight to the electricity box and saw that the box was apart and that the electrical wires were tempered with," he said.

While his siblings owed the municipality only R2 000 in 2013, in 2016 he was told the debt amounted to over R18 000 - which Thwala says he does not have.

“That didn’t sit well with me because, yes, the house is under my name - but I do not live there. Now I am in a debt, that I did not create and I might lose my own house soon because I cannot manage all the payments," he said.

Thwala described how desparate he is that in November last year, he confronted his siblings about the debt and forcibly disconnected the electricity wires at the house.

“But they didn’t listen, in December they again enjoyed their bonuses and forgot that they have a huge electricity bill that needed to be attended to," he added.

“Then this year, I was served with a court order from the municipality, which demanded my pay slips and bank statements, so that I can settle the debt."

Currently, he says there’s a R500 deduction every month from his salary as payments towards the debt at his grandmother's house - with two houses, he says he is struggling with the payments.

“I have been going back and forth, trying to fix this thing, but still there’s no luck, and that is why I decided to contact the Mayor, maybe he can help me fix this,” he said.

“I want the Mayor to intervene by disconnecting the electricity completely from my grandmother's house, and those that stay there must be held accountable for everything that is connected to that house not me - because, although my name is on the house, I don’t live there and I have the papers to prove it.

“Whatever is happening there, why must I be held accountable? I tried to change the house's ownership because I don’t stay there anymore - I was told to wait, now I am not even aware of the things that are happening at that house - which will still see me in more trouble if the Mayor does not intervene.”

*His real name was not used in the article.