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Prepaid Water Meters - Mafube at war with its residents?

It appears that Mafube Local Municipality (Mafube) are once again on the warpath, issuing threatening letters to residents of Frankfort where in their judgement, the municipality and it’s contractors are being hindered from installing prepaid water meters. As in the past, the Acting Municipal Manager again cites a non-existent bylaw and makes specific reference to an "intention to cut off water supply". The Municipal Water Bylaw could not be produced or furnished in the past despite numerous requests.

MBF (Mafube Business Forum) deem it necessary to inform residents, business owners and ratepayers as follows:

Right of access to water

The South African Constitution guarantees a right of access to water. What this means is that the South African Government (through its municipalities) is obliged to provide access of water to everyone in South Africa, where it has the infrastructural capacity to do so. In an instance where a person is living in an urban environment with pre-existing water infrastructure (i.e. pipes have already been laid to the property in question, and it already has a municipal supply of water), this right will normally be understood as a right to receive flow of water through the municipal pipes.

Municipalities such as Mafube, may decide on a free water allowance to a residential household, which is generally 6 000 litres per month in other parts of South Africa, where there are bylaws and tariff policies in place. Once a municipality has pledged to provide a free minimum supply to residents within its jurisdiction, termination of this supply becomes unlawful.

"May I refuse access to install a prepaid meter on my property?" Section 101 of the Municipal Systems Act 35 of 2003 states that the municipality has the right of access to private property to perform municipal work and access may not be refused by residents. However, this should be done at reasonable times and preferably in the presence of the owner. For this purpose, MBF believe it to be reasonable for the municipality and the contractor to make arrangements with property owners, prior to installation. "What should I do when a prepaid water meter is installed at my property?" • MBF recommend that property owners/residents/consumers do not sign any form confirming responsibility or acceptance of the prepaid water meters. • Ensure that the functioning of the meter is properly explained and that a contact number of the person responsible for maintenance of the meter is obtained. • All work done within the premises of a resident or business must be completed to the satisfaction of the owner - e.g. pavement must be properly replaced again etc. MBF recommends that photos be taken before and after installation. • MBF is of the opinion that because of the current spate of new COVID 19 infections, residents must be very careful to allow any outsiders on their premises and do have the right to insist that they can provide proof of their negative COVID19 status. • Security must also be taken into account and residents must insist on proper identification, before allowing anyone onto their property. Make sure that copies of both identities and COVID 19 status of each are obtained and saved for future reference. • In addition, residents may also insist on a signed indemnity form to protect themselves from any claims that may arise from the entry into their properties by Mafube Municipality and the appointed contractors, when they want to install the prepaid water meters. This form may be collected from MBF's office, and will also be made available by email on request.

"Do MBF support prepaid water meters?" MBF remains of the view that the municipality's prepaid water meter project is ill-advised and poorly executed, and have expressed our unease with this on many occasions. It is regrettable that Mafube chose to ignore our concerns and continue to alienate the community. It must be stressed that we are not opposed to change or improvement, but we are further concerned about priorities set by Mafube which may not reflect the real needs or problems in the municipal areas. If there are still uncertainties, we invite Mafube residents and business people to contact us. Visit our offices at 18A Church Street during our business hours, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 08:30 to 12:30, or contact Marina on WhatsApp at 079 145 4295. Or send an email to info@mafubebf.org



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