A blind Tafelsig father received a warrant of execution from the City of Cape Town, threatening to take his house away from him, after he received a water bill for R88 000.
Achmat Ariefdien, 52, who has been blind since 1982, is unemployed and also cares for his 78-year-old father who has stage three cancer.
He got the moerse bill after living in his Wolfgat New Area home for 11 years, during which time he did not receive a single water account.
If the City proceeds with the warrant, Ariefdien, whose sole income is a disability grant which he uses to provide for his wife and five children who are also unemployed, risks losing his home.
“A month ago I received a letter which made me sick.
“I was walking in the street outside my house and someone stopped me and just put that warrant of execution in my hand and told me I must make arrangements to pay,” he explains.
“In the letter, they were threatening to take my assets and the house.
“I am totally blind. Sometimes I am forced to go out to borrow money for electricity or to put some food on the table.
“What must I do now?
“I want the City to help me sort out this issue in whatever way possible.
“A concerned neighbour, who lives opposite me and who is also facing a similar problem, introduced me to a local community activist, Paul Daniels, who said he would try to assist me.
Daniels, who is standing for election as a councillor in Tafelsig on a Good party ticket, said he had applied to the City for a rebate, but hoped that it would scrap the warrant of execution.
“Many of his neighbours are in the same boat, and some don’t even earn an income,” he said.
Daniels also alerted Good’s mayoral candidate Brett Herron who has written to the City’s revenue director to request him to stop the warrant of execution.
“Instead of punishing the poor for their poverty, the City should show some empathy with the millions of people presently struggling to pay for food, let alone expensive water and electricity,” said Herron
The City’s mayoral committee member for Finance Ian Neilson said he was unable to comment on the issues of a specific customer because of Protection of Personal Information Act privacy requirements.
“All cases are evaluated on their own merit, and a customer’s personal circumstances are always taken into account.
“A person who relies on a disability grant for their income would qualify for extensive rebates on rates and tariffs.
“It is essential that they approach the City to assess their situation.
The City is sympathetic to residents who are struggling, and help is available,” he said.