Mamelodi residents turn to police for help with municipal service fees

Residents of Mamelodi marching to the Mamelodi West police station. Photo Stephen Selaluke.

A letter of apology from the Tshwane metro to the concerned residents of Mamelodi led to a march to the local police station where they demanded to be arrested.

The metro was apologising for failing to attend yet another meeting.

Residents marched to the police station holding their municipality services bills that they decided to stop paying because of “abnormal charges”.

More than 400 residents, including elderly people, took part in the march on Saturday.

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The metro failed to attend a third community meeting organised by Mamelodi concerned residents to discuss service delivery and municipal service fees.

The residents marched to demand that the police “arrest us because maybe we have done something wrong to the Tshwane metro because every time we invite them to discuss municipal services bills they do not attend”.

President of the Mamelodi concerned residents Oupa Mtshweni said: “Unfortunately we were not arrested by the police and no case was opened against the community.

“We tried to open a case against the Tshwane metro, but we were also turned down. The community policing forum said it will organise an urgent meeting with the Tshwane metro and the residents.”

The angry residents marched from the Mamelodi West community hall where the meeting was supposed to take place, after they received the letter of apology from the office of the mayor “at the 11th hour”.

The letter, by Steve Mamphekgo, said the Tshwane metro apologised for not being able to honour the invitation to the community meeting to be held on 5 August, “due to prior commitments”.

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“The office of executive mayor will be hosting the mayoral public meeting in Atteridgeville on the same date as your scheduled community meeting,” the letter, delivered a day before the Mamelodi meeting, said.

Mtshweni said it was the third scheduled meeting the Tshwane metro had failed to attend.

Those at the meeting agreed to continue not to pay for the services “because Tshwane metro had failed to come and listen to our problems”.

Mtshweni said the metro failed to attend meetings scheduled for 10 June, 15 July and 5 August.

He said these meetings were scheduled before the public meeting in Atteridgeville and the community was not

happy about Tshwane metro not taking them seriously.

“The residents are complaining about high municipal service charges and that their bills are wrong,” said Mtshweni.

He said the aim of the meeting was to resolve the issues that the community had been complaining about “for many years, but the metro is not prepared to sit down with us and solve this problem”.

Some of the residents who were complaining were elderly people who said their municipal service bills were high and they could not afford to pay. Some residents said they owed Tshwane between R200 000 and R500 000.

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Another problem was the metro apparently did not want to implement the poorest of the poor (POP) system.

“Residents have been trying to apply (to qualify for reduced poorest of the poor rates), without success,” said Mtshweni. The metro allegedly promised to send social workers to the homes of the poor, but residents were still waiting.

Apparently some of the residents including pensioners who wanted to apply for POP were allegedly told they did not qualify.

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Stephen Selaluke
Mamelodi journalist

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