The City of Johannesburg will establish a temporary Customer Service Centre at the Lord Khanyile pay-point in Ivory Park Ext 6 with effect from Monday, 2 September.

Addressing over 300 residents at Lord Khanyile Hall in Ivory Park, Midrand, on Saturday, 24 August, the City’s Revenue Director Elias Sitelele said that this was part of being solution orientated to get as many people as possible to take advantage of the Debt-rehabilitation plan.

The plan is for residents who earn below R22 000 a month and are in arrears. It affords them to have 50% of their municipal debt, which includes rates and water, written off and the interest on outstanding amounts frozen.

“You no longer have to catch a taxi and head to Thuso House in the city centre. As part of regionalization, we’re bringing the services that you normally get at Thuso House right here in Ivory Park,” said Sitelele.

His colleague, Elias Mabena, who is a Deputy Director for Revenue, told residents that as soon as they have signed an acknowledgement of debt agreement with the City, threatening phone calls from law firms and cut-offs will all cease.

“We need to pay for what we consume. There won’t be any lawyers to bother you. The interest that the City normally charges a month will be frozen. But the City will go to credit bureaus to confirm that the monthly income you have is not under-disclosed,” said Mabena.

During question time, many residents expressed unhappiness at the fact that Eskom hasn’t provided them with power for the past two months. Mabena said councillors needed to have a power talk with Eskom.

Other residents complained about estimates for water consumption. “Water in Ivory Park is expensive. It’s like we’re operating fire stations from our houses. We’re also being billed on estimates, not actual consumption. This is grossly unfair,” said a resident.

Mabena urged residents, who took pictures of the debt-rehabilitation Q&A forms with their cellphones as there weren’t enough to go around, to do the same with their meter readings and send to the City’s billing department. He also encouraged them to use their children’s email accounts to receive statements because the Post Office’s reliability was questionable.

In response to a question about affordability for pensioners, Mabena told residents about the City’s Extended Social Package and Pensioners’ Rebate programme, which caters for the most vulnerable community members in Johannesburg like child-headed households, displaced persons and senior citizens, who can have their rates waived once they are over 70 years of age.

After fielding questions from more than 60 residents, the Debt-rehabilitation caravan packed up and headed for the Diepsloot Youth Hall where Mabena and Sitelele continued to drum up support for the City’s Debt-rehabilitation programme.

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