Tshwane debt: City concedes it’s been too lenient on defaulting govt departments and businesses

The City of Tshwane has a debtor’s book of R17 billion and is disconnecting services of those who do not pay.

The City of Tshwane is cracking down on defaulters.

The City of Tshwane is cracking down on defaulters. Trevor Kunene

The City of Tshwane has conceded that it has been too lenient on defaulting government departments and businesses, while focusing on debts accrued by residential customers.

On Thursday, the City continued its crackdown on debts owed by government departments, state-owned entities, and businesses.

Two of its latest victims were the glass-manufacturing company Consol and the State Theatre in the City CBD.

According to City spokesperson Selby Bokaba, Consol owes in excess of R10 million, and the State Theatre in the CBD owes more than R2 million.

READ | Debt crackdown: Tshwane cuts Dept of Water’s power supply

Bokaba explained that the City was owed more than R17 billion in rates, taxes, water, and electricity bills.

The debt has accrued since before 2016.

Because of the debt, the City was unable to fulfil its service delivery obligations, which had prompted the campaign of disconnecting defaulters and naming and shaming them on social media.

The City also conceded that it had been extremely lenient on defaulting government departments, SOEs, and businesses for far too long.

Some of the entities already disconnected are:

– The 5-star Sheraton Hotel

– The Department of Water and Sanitation

– Denel

– The State Theatre

– Consol

– Lyttelton Shopping Centre

– The Blue Beacon commercial property in Swartkop

– The Department of Infrastructure Development

“We have been too harsh and firm on residential customers, but the same firmness was not extended to government departments, SOEs and businesses,” Bokaba said.

He added that they would in the past send notices, and even final notices, to these entities in a bid to get them to pay, but these would be ignored, and the City would take no further action.

The latest crackdown by the City started on Tuesday and has already seen results.

After turning off services at national key point, state-owned arms manufacturer Denel, payment towards the R2.2 million debt was made.

The City had also been inundated with calls from defaulters wanting to make arrangements to service debts, Bokaba said.

“People are panicking because they don’t want to be without electricity and water.”

Acting city manager Mmaseabata Mutlaneng told the media that the City had identified more than 800 defaulting businesses, government departments and SOEs that they would be disconnecting.

She said 11 teams on the ground would be disconnecting the defaulters over the next two weeks.