Relief for cash-strapped indigent EC ratepayers

Relief is in sight for indigent East London ratepayers as the Buffalo City Metro prepares to write off nearly R63 million in unpaid rates.

Metro spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said the issuing of a list of over 24 000 households in the Metro that were eligible to have their debt written off was in line with the Metro’s credit policy.

“The policy states that indigent consumers’ debt can’t be handed over to debt collectors or attorneys, provided debtors’ names appear in the municipality’s indigent database. No legal action is taken against indigent debtors, which only places an additional burden on the poorest of the poor,” said Ngwenya.

Council speaker Luleka Simon requested residents to contact their ward councillor to check whether they qualified for a debt write-off before 24 January.

A list with the personal particulars, account numbers and total debt amount is available from ward councillors, and Simon urged community members to verify their particulars.

Mdantsane resident Nomaneli Ntozini (49) said the debt write-off couldn’t have happened at a better time, especially since many people struggled financially in January.

“I’m very excited about the decision. It will help us tremendously because we can use our last remaining cash for our children’s school fees,” said Ntozini.

Ngwenya said if residents wanted to check whether they qualified for the write-off, they would have to provide the councillors with their identity documents, proof of indigence and proof of residence. He added that they would have to do so no later than the 24 January deadline, or their debt might not be written off.

The total debt owed by indigent debtors includes over R600 000 in unpaid electricity, over R6 million in rates, R8 million in sewerage and nearly R32 million in water. – BuaNews