The Daily Dispatch E-Edition

Court orders BCM to reconnect residents’ electricity


Buffalo City Metro has suffered another temporary setback after the East London high court ordered it to reconnect the electricity of residents it had cut off.

Three residents teamed up with National Community Dialogues, an NGO, to take the city to court.

The court on Friday gave the city four hours to reconnect the residents’ electricity.

The order of the court is, however, temporary and it is due to make a final decision on the matter in December.

The three residents took the city to court after the city allegedly failed to give them notice before disconnecting them.

The court ruled that the “termination/blockage of electricity supply ... is hereby declared unlawful”.

“The respondents [BCM] are directed to reconnect the electricity supply to the applicants’ premise forthwith four hours after service of the court order at the offices of the first and respondent [BCM and BCM municipal manager Mxolisi Yawa].

“The respondents are interdicted and restrained from charging the applicant a reconnection fee as a result of the unlawful disconnection/blockage of electricity supply,” the ruling reads.

The residents had approached Leonard Ncumbese from National Community Dialogues to help them go up against the city.

Philip Dilima, one of the three residents challenging the city, said the city had complied with the court order.

He said he only found out that he was disconnected by the city on Sunday last week.

He said BCM says he owes R36,000.

Dilima lives in Mdantsane with his wife and two children.

He said he had a similar problem in 2021 when the city switched him off, saying he ended up paying R37,000 to get it switched back on.

He said he was frustrated because he did not understand how the amount was reached.

Dilima said the municipality sent him from pillar to post and he was never helped.

He blamed the city’s smart meter reading device.

“They don’t do the inspection ... it’s just estimations and you end up getting a water bill that you don’t understand,” he said.

The second resident, who asked not to be named, said the city reconnected her on Friday after the judgment.

The woman, who works as a security guard, said according to her BCM bill she owed the city R39,000 but she was surprised by this because she lived alone.

“I was blocked in early November,” she said.

The woman said she had been struggling to sort out the bill.

“I would try to pay it off but I am not sure this bill is mine.

“It’s difficult to pay money [you know nothing about].

“I am not well because of this issue,” she said.

BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya slammed the latest ruling.

“BCM received the court papers in respect of this urgent court application very late ... [this] meant BCM had insufficient time or no time at all to file its opposing papers in respect of the application,” he said.

As a result, the matter was dealt with by the court as unopposed.

He said the city would file opposing papers before the matter was heard by the court to determine whether to make the order final.

I would try to pay it off but I am not sure this bill is mine. It’s difficult to pay money [you know nothing about]

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