Eskom deals massive R3.4 billion blow to Joburg

 ·20 Jun 2024

Power utility Eskom says that it has obtained a court order against the City of Joburg, demanding that the city pay over R1 billion in owed debt, which has since ballooned to R3.4 billion.

The utility announced that the high court in Johannesburg the city to pay R1.073 billion, including interest, for the unpaid electricity account.

The court application was necessitated by the fact that the City of Joburg and its utility, City Power, have been defaulting on their electricity accounts since October 2023.

“When the matter was heard on 4 June 2024, the total amount owed to Eskom by CoJ/CP was R3.4 billion,” it said.

When Eskom brought the court action against the city, it responded by alleging that Eskom in fact owed the city money because of alleged overbilling.

The city claimed that Eskom owed it R3.4 billion.

However, the court dismissed the counterclaim with costs, Eskom said, dismissing the city’s set-off against Eskom.

“Eskom has written a letter to COJ/CP demanding payment of the full amount of R3.4 billion by 21 June 2024, and we hope they will respect the court decision and settle all outstanding debts to Eskom,” the utility said.

The City of Joburg is currently fighting an uphill battle against residents who have not been paying their bills. At last reporting, the city was owed around R10 billion in unpaid bills.

As a result, it has ramped up enforcement measures against residents who refuse to pay up – this includes cutting off defaulting customers and forcing changes of meters from pre-paid to post-paid where the former are under-vending.

City Power’s focus has also been shifted to affluent areas and customers who owe hundreds of millions of rands in debt alone.

The latest billing woes and Eskom legal action come as the city’s services are in a severe crunch. Notably, City Power is implementing load reduction to prevent grid collapse.

The city was forced to turn to “stringent measures” to prevent the grid from collapsing, including intensifying the implementation of ripple relay systems to cut electricity to geysers in homes where the systems are under threat, reducing load at substations with higher consumption and those under threat, and intensifying cut-off operations against illegal connections.

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