Water bills shoot up over R60,000 for residents in Joburg estate

 ·2 Apr 2024

Residents of Tirong Estate in Johannesburg are being charged over R20,000 in penalties for illegal water connections, with some water bills now sitting at over R60,000 – and neither the City nor the developer has done anything to help the homeowners.

The Tirong Estate was developed in 2018 and is centrally located near Fourways Precinct, Fourways Mall, Cosmo Mall and Northgate Mall.

The estate is easily accessible via Malibongwe Drive or Witkoppen Road and is near the N14 Krugersdorp/Pretoria freeway.

The estate comprises 638 single-family homes, with floor plans ranging from 40.5 square meters (sqm) to 80 sqm.

However, when new homeowners moved into their houses, illegally connected water had already been installed without meter boxes to gauge their usage – resulting in massive penalties for the homeowners.

This issue was first reported by eNCA, who followed up on the matter with the residents, the City of Johannesburg (CoJ), and the developer.

One resident told eNCA that his penalty fee for an illegal connection was R21,500, with his total bill sitting at over R45,000 when adding the consumption charges since he moved into the property.

Another resident noted he uses around R1,200 worth of water a month. Still, after three years of living in the estate, he owes Johannesburg Water over R60,000 due to this illegal connection issue.

Following an inquiry submitted by the Tirong Estate residents into the matter in August 2023, the CoJ’s Building Development Management (BDM), Johannesburg Water, the ward councillor, and the developer held a meeting to address the problem.

The outcome was outlined in an executive report compiled by BDM – which noted that the developer confirmed it had connected water to the houses before calling the BDM for final inspections and proceeded with transferring the properties to new owners after receiving Occupation Certificates (OCs) from BDM.

However, the developer shouldn’t have received the OCs, as this is only permitted after Joburg Water issues a Clearance Certificate to BDM confirming water meters are installed, which was not the case.

Nevertheless, Joburg Water confirmed in the report that the party who connected the houses with water is responsible.

Following the report, residents approached several departments within Joburg Water to hold the developer accountable for the illegal connections, but to no avail.

134 Ward councillor Devon Steenkamp said that after the residents approached him, he approached the developer and explained that they were at fault and should have followed protocol.

However, the company was adamant that it was a CoJ issue.

“The developer added that any resident that wants to pursue the matter must do so through the courts,” said Steenkamp.

eNCA noted that it failed to get a follow-up comment from the City or the developer on the issue.

Despite the developer and the authorities being aware of the problem, the residents likely will have to foot the bill, as they’re still facing disconnections over the unpaid penalties.

Read: Social grant changes for South Africa this month.

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