Cooperative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka owes the Johannesburg municipality almost R35 000, but it is unclear whether his water and electricity were cut off, Beeld newspaper reported on Monday.
“The minister would like to pay his service bill, but he will not pay thousands of rands for something that is inexplicable,” Shiceka’s spokesperson Vuyelwa Vika said on Sunday.
She however did not know what the situation at the minister’s private residence in Midrand was. The minister was also a victim of the municipality’s “chaotic” accounting system, Vika said.
Beeld reported that Shiceka’s first inquiry into the bill was in 2008, and over the last three years he had heard nothing from the municipality.
“He only stayed at his home two days a week at that stage, but received bills that the municipality itself could not explain. He thought someone was using his power illegally.”
He had since moved to a ministerial home in Pretoria.
“His house in Midrand is empty, but the bill gets ever higher. He wants an answer before he pays,” Vika said.
Beeld reported that Shiceka did not answer his phone. Johannesburg municipal spokesperson Kgamanyane Maphologela, Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo and the Gauteng premier’s office could also not provide clarity on the matter.
Last week, Masondo drew widespread criticism after he publicly said that the electricity billing problems did not constitute a crisis.
Continue cutting off services
The City of Johannesburg will continue cutting off services to those who do not pay their electricity bills, Masondo said last week.
“We don’t enjoy cutting off people, but the municipality has a legal responsibility and obligation to collect all the money due to the municipality,” he said at a meeting for the province’s mayors held on February 3.
He said the city would not “wrongfully” cut power.
The widespread billing problems in Johannesburg, the country’s economic hub, has angered many residents.
Masondo said “significant progress” had been made in dealing with the situation but could not provide a timeline of when the billing issues would be resolved.
“In one year’s time, in two years’ time, many of the problems … will be problems of the past,” he said. — Sapa