Nophelo Hekeni, who lives in a shack with her husband and three children, showed GroundUp a water bill of R153 she received about three months ago. Hekeni said she had bought water pipes and connected them to nearby city water pipes before putting up a tap in her yard.
"I installed the tap so I could get water easily. I now use it along with about 40 families because there is no other tap in my area," she said.
There is no water meter.
Hekeni said she moved into the informal settlement about ten years ago. She makes a living from doing alterations and mending clothes for shack dwellers who have no money to buy new ones.
Nolundi Sangqu, who lives with her husband and four kids, said she had been billed for R2,944 for water. She stores water in two 25 litre containers and uses it to drink, cook and wash clothes.
"I will pay for water only when I have an RDP house," she said.
Seventy-year-old Margaret Mbotshana, who lives with her daughter and three grandchildren, has a bill for R18,581 for water.
"The water bills are piling up at my place. I no longer bother to read them.
"I’m not interested in the letters because I have no water tap in my shack and I collect water from a far-off water tap," she said.
Mayco member for water and waste, councillor Xanthea Limberg, said the city would investigate.
"Residents of informal settlements are not charged for water," she said.
Limberg added: "The city provides a social package that provides water at no cost to approximately 40% of households in Cape Town, which includes the approximately 175,000 informal households."
The city does measure water consumption in informal settlements as part of its monitoring of water consumption - "but, to re-emphasise, this is for the city’s records and residents of informal settlements are not billed".
- This story was originally published on GroundUp.