Culture of non-payment out of control

Selby Makgotho

Residents of Lebowakgomo outside Polokwane owe the local municipality a whopping R24million, it emerged yesterday.

Stella Mphahlele, spokesman for the Lepelle-Nkumpi municipality in Lebowakgomo, told Sowetan the growing culture of non-payment was causing difficulties for the municipality.

Mphahlele warned people not to be surprised if they run short of services.

Mphahlele said the municipality had even launched Operation Lefela Ditirelo - Operation pay for services - in an effort to get residents to understand the importance of paying for services.

"We can't keep on like this. If people do not pay for services, how are we going to service them?" he asked.

"When our communities do not get services they are the first to say we are not attending to them," Mphlahlele said.

She said the mayor, Calvin Masoga, and municipal manager Sepitle Mphahlele had just finished a campaign during which they spoke to residents on the importance of paying for services.

The two officials warned communities that if they did not pay for services as required there would be serious consequences.

"Residents should be aware that if they continue with the culture of non-payment, the municipality will collapse and there will no longer be services rendered to them," she said.

"If you don't pay for services, the municipality has all the rights to stop providing such services as it cannot continue providing services for free. There is nothing like a free lunch,'' Mphahlele said.

She also urged community members to go to the municipal offices to discuss any problems they had with their accounts or bills.

Mphahlele also said people who have financial problems are welcome to the office to make special arrangements for payments.