A Cape Flats pensioner who has a water bill of more than R30 000 says she’ll be dead before she can settle her account.
Gadija Ceres, 77, has been paying the City of Cape Town off at R150 a month.
While the City confirms the hefty amount was due to a faulty water meter, which has since been repaired, the Steenberg ouma still has an outstanding balance of R31 432 to pay.
The amount accumulated over months and Gadija says her water usage went from around R200 a month “to thousands of rands”.
“I still want to go to Mecca again but how can I when I have to pay for this,” she says.
Gadija, whose daughter and two grandchildren live with her, says she has never skipped a payment.
“The water meter used to be on my property but then I asked them to move it,” she says. “After this I suddenly got huge bills. We are not that many people living here and during the day my daughter and grandchildren are not at home.”
After reporting the matter at her local housing office, instead of investigating, the City arranged for Gadija to pay R150 instalments.
At the current rate, it will take the pensioner 17 years to settle the account.
Gadija says she is too scared to even flush her toilet now.
“We Muslims have to pray five times a day and we must take abdas. I use the water very sparingly when I do,” she says. “I only flush the toilet once a day and I use dishwater to water my plants.”
Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Ernest Sonnenberg, blames a faulty meter.
“The customer’s meter was replaced and was moved during replacement to allow better access for the meter readers,” he says.
“The (new) faulty meter has since been repaired and the City is monitoring consumption levels at the premises before adjusting the account for the period when the meter was faulty.”
The granny says she hopes this will happen soon.
“Ek sal al dood wees dan moet ek nog altyd betaal,” the ouma tells the Daily Voice.