Chantelle Gladwin BA LLB (Rhodes) LLM (UNISA) (Notary) (Conveyancer)
Partner Registered Tax Practitioner: PR-BD681C0 – of Schindlers’ Attorneys, Conveyancers’ & Notaries
As the year draws to a close, we unfortunately see an increase in the rate of illegal disconnections, most of which are carried out by rouge officials looking for bribes.
An article reporting on the prevalence of the issue can be accessed here: http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/scammers-targeting-jozi-residents-1.1957278?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=dlvr.it#.Vmf-ZzccTIU.
In addition, the CoJ makes every effort to ensure that clients who have logged queries about disputed amounts are not cut off, but every now and then property owners are mistakenly threatened with or cut off.
If either of the above happen to you, please be aware of the following:
CUT OFFS BY UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS LOOKING FOR BRIBES
- If you are disconnected or threatened with disconnection, first verify from the CoJ whether you are indeed scheduled for disconnection before taking any other action. A phone call to the call centre can usually achieve this.
- Insist on seeing the identity card of the person who is threatening you. Authorized contractors are meant to carry City Power identification cards (if they are cutting electricity) or Jo’burg Water identification cards (if they are cutting water). Also insist on obtaining their full name, ID number, and supervisor’s name and telephone number.
- If they refuse to provide you with any information, start taking photographs of them and their vehicles.
- Insist on them providing you with a written document authorising the disconnection, such as a termination notice or disconnection card.
- Do not pay any amounts in cash to any person who threatens to or disconnects you. All payments legitimately owed must be made directly to the municipality’s bank account. If you make payment to any person ‘on the street’ you will not be credited with the amounts paid, even if they ultimately do work for the CoJ or its subsidiaries.
- Report all incidents of unlawful cut of threats (by rouge persons looking for bribes) to the CoJ, and City Power specifically, and to the police. This helps hugely to root out the cause of the problem. The more information available, the greater the number of arrests. Huge advances have been made in past months but there is still work to be done in this regard.
- Do not try to prevent them from cutting off the supply unless you are absolutely sure that they are acting without authorisation, as it is a crime to do so.
- Be careful and try not to aggravate these people – those acting illegally are often aggressive and can be dangerous. Rather advise them that you are immediately calling your attorney and that your attorney will deal with them personally. This coupled with the requests above for information about the person threatening you, and the photos, is usually enough to chase away any person acting unlawfully.
CUT OFFS BY AUTHORIZED OFFICIALS, WHERE A DISPUTE HAS BEEN LODGED
- Remember that even contractors who are actually authorized to carry out disconnections are often threatened by property owners/tenants and have probably had a long day.
- Please treat all CoJ officials with dignity and respect as even if they are there to cut you off, they are merely following the instructions of their superiors, and arguing with them or threatening them often won’t have any affect on the situation at all.
- Follow steps 1 – 5 above. Get as much information as you can, so that you can take steps to immediately arrange an urgent re-connection (because you were cut off in error). The CoJ is very helpful when it comes to urgently reconnecting people cut off in error.