LIMPOPO – Residents of Mankweng staged protest and forced shops to close on Monday, demanding that the local Polokwane municipality reverse a council motion to cut water.
It is estimated that residents owe the municipality R2-million for water, leading to the council recently issuing letters threatening disconnection.
Shoppers from surrounding villages were shocked when they arrived at Mankweng Plaza on Monday to find shops closed.
Hundreds of residents took to the streets to march to the municipality’s satellite office in Mankweng, about 30km outsidePolokwane, only to find the office doors were locked and no one to accept their list of demands.
Protestors claimed their water bills are exorbitant and they do not understand how the council calculates the amounts charged.
Community leader Jerry Hine said that, despite many receiving letters threatening disconnection of water supplies, residents were not going to pay the bills as the accounts did not reflect their actual consumption of water.
“We are here to return the bills and statements to the council. we will sit here until the management comes and receives its bills,” he said.
“There is no negotiations …”
On November 30, the council sent letters to residents warning: “Failure to settle your account within 14 days will result in the municipality disconnecting the support of water/electricity to your property.”
Resident Elizabeth Malungane said the balance on her account did not change despite her making payments.
“I am paying every month R500 and when I check my debt was at R11,000. I have made several payments but my balance keeps going up,” said Malungane.
Like hundreds of other residents, she has vowed not to pay her municipal bills until the municipality had clarified matters.
Municipality spokesman Tidimallo Chuene said it would meet community leaders to hear their grievances. He did not give a date.