Ombudsman to investigate Joburg billing system

Household bills
Household bills
Image: Freestock image

The Office of the Ombudsman in Johannesburg will conduct a systemic investigation into alleged maladministration in the city’s billing system.

In the quarterly report for the period between July 1 and September 30 this year‚ the office said 79% of the complaints lodged with it related to billing.

The office said the high rate of complaints regarding billing pointed to a systematic deficiency in the billing system of the municipality.

“Whilst the Revenue Department and relevant entities such as City Power‚ Joburg Water and Pikitup have been largely co-operating with the Office of Ombudsman to resolve the individual billing-related complaints‚ it is evident from the number of complaints that there is need to address the root cause of the billing problems‚” the office said in its report.

It said the issues to be investigated included lengthy turnaround times in replacing defective meters‚ incompatible IT systems between the Revenue Department and the utilities and different accounts on one property.

The office said it would identify issues per entity‚ draft questions to the entities and compare the city’s billing systems to other metros.

“Meetings with relevant Departmental and institutional Heads in the Revenue Cluster will be arranged and the investigations will officially commence in the next quarter. The Office will also work on a plan to address the individual billing complaints with the Revenue Department.”

The office said in the period under review‚ it had 693 active cases. It said 686 complaints for investigation were brought forward from the previous financial year.

It said 191 cases were finalised in the quarter under review‚ compared to 187 cases the previous quarter.

The office said the average caseload per investigator‚ at 77 cases‚ was still relatively high.

The Ombudsman also said it was currently investigating five key human rights and service delivery complaints as it was empowered by the by-law to do so.

These are allegations of poor security‚ theft and vandalism of tombstones at Avalon Cemetery‚ a claim of land invasions of vacant land in Bramley‚ allegations of lack of housing in Mafelandawonye in Ivory Park‚ and allegations of service delivery failures in Diepsloot and Orange Farm.

 

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