March for relief

Pictured in the middle is Natasha Gertse, from Tafelsig, signing a memorandum to handed over to ward councillors Danny Christians and Ashley Potts. The memorandum calls for the fall of high electricity tariffs, home valuations, load shedding and penalties on units.

Mitchell’s Plain residents are “suffering” having to decide between paying municipal bills or putting food on the table.

These were the sentiments shared during a march against high electricity tariffs, home valuations and residents being penalised for not being able to afford municipal bills, from AZ Berman Drive to the Mitchell’s Plain Sub-council office, in Lentegeur, on Saturday October 14.

Tafelsig resident Natasha Gertse organised the protest and had also garnered more than 30 000 signatures via an online petition

She is the founder of Electricity tariffs must fall, a Facebook social media group, who also wrote to Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis about residents’ struggles and hosted a protest outside the Civic Centre on August 26.

This follows ratepayers having to fork out 17.6% more for electricity, after the City of Cape Town had Eskom’s 18.49% increase reduced.

Changes were made to the tariff structure for residents who qualify for the subsidised Lifeline electricity tariff.

Households consuming more than 350 units would pay R3.71 per unit but because of the Lifeline shift those customers would now pay R1.84.

In an email dated July 6, she questioned recent home valuations, moving several households from the Lifeline tariff to the Domestic tariff because their properties were now valued at more than R500 000 after the General Valuation of 2022 (“Electricity increases ‘unjustified’”, Plainsman July 12).

This made those ratepayers ineligible for rates rebates, indigent or pensioner support, she said.

On Saturday October 14, she said: “We want the City of Cape Town to take note of the suffering”.

Various representatives from political parties, community organisations and pensioners took part in the march.

Myrtle Jack, from God’s Angels Reaching Out organisation, said: “We suffer to buy R50 electricity to get seven units. Today, it is not lekker because it is a loaf of bread’s money. It is our food money. We don’t have food in our house because we must think of the electricity that is needed,” she said.

She said: “We suffer. Our children suffer. Our pensioners suffer.”

Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA) deputy chairman Michael Jacobs gave their support to Ms Gertse and all march participants.

“Your struggle is our struggle. You are our community. We stay here,” he said.

Mr Jacobs said that the DA-led municipality was taxing residents “to death”.

“You are taxing our people with water and electricity levies, with prepaid debt policies. They are placing a burden on people,” he said.

He called on politicians to vote with a conscience within the municipality.

“Don’t vote against your people. We say vote for our people or you are our enemy,” said Mr Jacobs.

Beacon Valley resident Mogamat Samie said citizens were not under an apartheid system.

“We are part of a democratic system. Demos kratos you the public are the government. You are the authority. City officials, police department or traffic department are civil servants. They serve you,” he said.

Former DA councillor for Ward 75, Natalie Bent, from Colorado Residents and Ratepayers’ Association and for Mitchell’s Plain, said residents were going to sleep hungry.

“We cannot let our people down. We need to stand up. We need to say no, we are not going to vote for you.

“We are going to vote for a party that cares.

“Look at those who are working for you and vote for them,” she said.

According to the memorandum, electricity has become unaffordable.

“People are receiving two units for R10. That two units are only used to switch on a stove, how are people supposed to cope,” it asked.

Ms Gertse read out the memorandum saying that residents are unable to use geysers and kettles.

“We are at the point of load shedding ourselves in order to save. Gas was an alternative, but has become another expense, on top of all other expenses,” read the memorandum.

It lists concerns relating to electricity, rates, water, refuse, sewerage, property valuations, rebates, indigent grants, payment arrangements, piggy banking, relief on electricity, removal of the home user charge, executive letter, public meetings and wages and salaries, which are increased below inflation.

It asked for the municipality to set up a formal channel of communication.

“We demand that the City put forward a senior level panel with in-depth knowledge and the necessary authority to champion the remedy of these grievances.

“We want to argue this in person and receive the respect we deserve,” read the memorandum.

They would like a response with in seven days.

The memorandum was handed to Ashley Potts, councillor for Ward 81 including Westridge and Rocklands; and Danny Christians, councillor for Ward 79, including Rocklands and Portland.