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Cape residents revolt over rates hikes

Exorbitant property rates and electricity tariffs have raised the ire of Cape Town residents, with Cosatu saying it is planning strike action after being inundated with complaints.

Earlier in the year, the City of Cape Town pushed for a price hike for utilities for properties valued at more than R1 million, which included a R8.21 a day electricity tariff increase.

The City’s draft budget said that properties valued at more than R1m and those who use old credit meters would have a R250 per month (R8.21 a day) electricity tariff increase.

The budget draft also said ratepayers with homes valued at more than R400 000 would lose their free basic water.

The City’s last general valuation was in 2015 and the latest increases are based on those valuations.The increases have seen lower and middle-income areas experiencing a 2.8% increase and higher earners a 3.34% increase.

Carol October, who lives in a flat in Ottery, is one of those residents struggling. “My rent has also gone up in the last few months and we used to get free units, but now we don’t any more,” October said.

October said she noticed her electricity meter was running low constantly. “The City told me that there is a hike. I used to by R10 electricity now I buy R60 to R50 a day.

“I decided to object and I went to them and told them that I have 12 people staying with me I am the only one working In the household. No one got back to me.”

Homeowners, whose property rates have gone up, are feeling the pinch as well.

“This is worst than the apartheid time,” said Hamid Adams, who lives in Rondebosch. Initially the City wanted to increase his property rates by R15 000 a year, he said.

“I realised that the City was robbing me blind and I went to the appeals court to object. So the appeals court then decided to let me pay R14 000 rates.”

Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said, “These increases have led to communities not being able to afford electricity the whole month. This new rates effectively mean that the people with a R400 000 house would pay the same electricity rates as the wealthy ‘larnies’ in their R10m houses in Camps Bay.”

The federation has received over 1000 complaints from residents complaining about the hikes, he said. Ehrenreich said Cosatu planned to strike against these increases later in the month.

Mayoral committee member for finance Johan van der Merwe said: “There is much misinformation in the public sphere about electricity tariff increases. Firstly, that our vulnerable residents are no longer supported by the City of Cape Town and secondly, that our tariffs are higher than that of a metro such as Johannesburg.

“These assertions are false. The great majority of tariff increases for City services are close to or within the inflation range. Our energy tariffs at heart remain consumption based, so the less you use the less you pay.”




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