Morgenster family without water for 10 days

Melanie Busch, 57, her husband and son, were without running water for 10 days after their water meter was removed by the council.

A Morgenster family are distraught after being without running water for 10 days.

Melanie Busch, 57, who is in arrears with her water bill, said the City of Cape Town had accused her of tampering with her water meter and it was removed without warning.

She was served with a letter, stating the tampering, on Tuesday November 21 from a City of Cape Town inspector who removed her water meter on the same day. The letter also stated that she needs to pay a tampering fine of R5 000.

However, Ms Busch said she did not tamper with the meter.

After the Plainsman met with them on Wednesday November 29, Ms Busch received an email from the City of Cape Town notifying her that her meter would be reinstalled.

It was reinstalled on Thursday November 30 with a trickle flow, she said.

She was previously told, at the municipal office in Lentegeur, that she needed to make arrangements with the municipality to pay R860 to reinstall the water meter.

Ms Busch received a call from the municipality, saying they had incorrectly stated the amount and that she would now have to pay R1 200 for reinstalment, she said.

“Why did I need to make arrangements to pay for something I am not guilty of? When I enquired about the tampering they could not tell me the root cause of it at the time, they just said I needed to pay and was guilty of tampering with my water. This is not right,” she said.

Ms Busch is fighting cancer and lives with her son Eaghan, 29, and husband, Edgar, 61 who is diabetic, partially blind, and wheelchair-bound having had a leg amputated.

Ms Busch said they had to borrow over 25 litres of water from her neighbours. She would even have to pay some people just to have access to clean water, she said.

Ms Busch is not disputing her arrears but she is disputing being accused of tampering with the water meter which she did not do, she said.

Sub-council 12 chairperson and Ward 116 councillor, Solomon Philander, said he was aware of the matter and visited Ms Busch at home on Wednesday November 22.

“It’s important to state all homeowners are responsible for their municipal account and it’s the responsibility of homeowners to pay for the service use month to month,” he said.

The account is in arrears and based on the City’s credit control they took action on the account by restricting services.

“Their account was disconnected on June 26, a flow restrictor was inserted into the meter. The City inspected on Tuesday November 21 and found the restrictor disc was removed. In line with the City’s policy, the meter was removed for tampering.

“I informed Ms Busch about the City’s indigent relief options. The family might qualify for indigent status. I explained the necessary documents needed, and I invited her to my office where we’d assist,” he said.

If Ms Busch is not willing to apply for assistance then the bill must be settled in full or by means of payment arrangement.

“My office is willing to assist with indigent applications should they need assistance,” Mr Philander said.

The City’s mayoral committee member for water and sanitation, Zahid Badroodien, confirmed the water supply at the premises was restricted in June this year by installing a disc in the meter that limits water flow.

Ms Busch didn’t make a payment arrangement, and the disc should have remained in the meter. The disc was removed on Tuesday November 21. It’s on this basis that tampering was confirmed, he said.

The meter was replaced on Thursday November 30.

Ms Busch is in the process of applying for an indigent grant, Mr Badroodien said.

You can report tampering anonymously 24/7 to 0800 00 6992 or email SSIMS.SSIUReporting@capetown.gov.za