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City residents fear power being cut

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Many residents said they were afraid of having their electricity cut, especially with winter approaching.

RESIDENTS in Kimberley are in a state of panic after some received threatening SMSes from the Sol Plaatje Municipality warning them to pay their municipal accounts or face legal action.

Many residents said they were afraid of having their electricity cut, especially with winter approaching, despite calls from President Cyril Ramaphosa for leniency during the lockdown.

One city resident, Maggie Moabi, whose family survives on odd jobs and the child grants she receives for her two children, said all the money that came in was spent on food and electricity.

“I am worried that our electricity will be cut and we will be left to suffer in the dark and cold,” said Moabi.

She added that the tavern where her husband worked as a security guard was closed because of the lockdown.

“I did not even qualify for a food parcel because the people said my husband works. He only earns R2 000 a month but it is still something. For now there is nothing.”

The Sol Plaatje Municipality did not cast any light on the messages that have been sent out to ratepayers but only added that those in distress should make payment arrangements.

Municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie said that many residents had gone to the municipality to pay their accounts. “We have been observing social distancing at our various pay points.

“Those in distress are advised to make arrangements as usual.”

The DA in the Northern Cape has meanwhile called on the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Bentley Vass, to urgently ensure that municipalities wanting to impose electricity cuts are guided by “fair and merciful regulations” in order to prevent further harm to individual households and local businesses.

DA spokesperson Harold McGluwa said residents and local businesses had been hard hit by the havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

For more and more people, the situation is becoming increasingly dire, he said. “Many residents don’t have money for food. While the DA accepts that accounts need to be paid for municipalities to remain operating as going concerns, the current extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures, not just from national and provincial governments, but from local governments too.”

McGluwa said he would write to Vass, asking him to urgently issue a directive to all local government institutions to adopt a caring and fair approach going forward. “This is not time for business as usual.”

“Municipalities in the Northern Cape need to adapt and, within clear guidelines, show humanity. Never before have we found ourselves in such a situation. 

“As individuals and as government, we all need to help expand the safety net to those who desperately need relief,” he concluded.