Cape Town residents have been forced to dig deeper into their pockets after the new electricity tariffs came into effect at the start of this month.

The new increases range from 8.88% to 13.37%.

Activist group STOP COCT founder Sandra Dickson said: “(We are) of the opinion that, with these above-inflation tariff increases, the City is taking money out of people’s pockets.

“Many of our members reported that they are receiving almost 10 units less for every R100 of prepaid electricity purchased.

“The City of Cape Town is therefore contributing to inflation in Cape Town by eroding the working-class buying power with these continuous high-above-inflation increases year-after-year.”

The impact on the electricity tariff hike will apply to residents who own a prepaid meter in a house worth more than R1 million; or have a credit meter regardless of property value.

Residents who fall into that category are expected to pay a new, fixed R150 a month, no matter how much electricity they use.

They will then pay a rate of about R1.8532 per kWh for the first 600 units a month and R2.1032/kWh after that.

Chairperson of the District Six Civic Association, Asa Salie, said: I really don’t know how pensioners will be able to get by.

“Pensioners are struggling and (get) the support of their children, simply because the cost of living is becoming ridiculous for everyone.

“Last year it was the water, the drought justified the City to introduce their ridiculously high tariffs and adding the pipe usage this year to it’s municipal rates, although with restitution rates (they) are not payable as yet, as it forms part of restitution but everything else is killing us.”

Salie added that with the latest increase, it would be a struggle for residents to get by,

Ghalema Easton, spokesperson for Justice 4 Cape Town, said: “The pensioners cannot dig any deeper. They have long since not been able to meet the cost of living. Your middle working-class citizens are struggling to make ends meet.

“The pensioners do not stand a chance. I have a couple of the latter pleading with me to set up a meeting with (mayor) Dan Plato.

“They cannot pay these huge accounts and need help.

“As for the pensioners, I’m at a loss for words and actions. The City has no heart. They don’t care,” said Easton.

Last year, Justice 4 Cape Town marched to the City with hundreds of senior citizens to protest against tariff increases.

But it was the cost of living and the impact of consumers that have economist concerned: “If we look at these municipal increases that are enforced on residents they are very significant.

“What we are seeing is that the economy is not growing, and poverty is growing.

“It places consumers in a dilemma because this adds more pressure on them and it increases debt, because they will fall behind with their repayments,” said economist Dawie Roodt.

The City’s mayoral committee member for finance Ian Neilson, said: “Almost R1.7 billion has been proposed for indigent relief and R1.23bn has been proposed to be budgeted for rates rebates.

“Much work has been done to ensure that rates and tariffs are as affordable as possible.

“As a caring City, we make allowance for residents who are unable to pay for basic services to approach the City for relief, and for those who are struggling to pay their municipal accounts to enter into an agreed arrangement or instalment plan to pay off their arrears.”