There was jubilation when Harmony Village housing beneficiaries received news that they would get 350 litres of water a day for free in 2014.
The announcement was made by the CEO of Cape Town Community Housing Company (CTCHC) in a newsletter sent to the beneficiaries.
Six years later, the beneficiaries are shocked to be getting water bills, some billed over R100 000.
“For the past six years of living here, I have never received a single bill from the municipality,” says Sharwaan Railoun.
“The first bill came and it showed that I owe over R20 000 and we want to know how when we are receiving free 350 litres of water for free.”
Sharwaan claims that: “We are first-time house owners and we want our free water, the dams are full.”
The residents were also notified that if no arrangements are made with the City, their water will be cut.
Sharon Sheffield, who was billed R27 150.25, says there are people whose water has already been turned off.
“They have disconnected certain people around here and they are coming for us,” she says.
“The municipality must demand payment from CTCHC, not us.
“We were promised free water and we are paying for these houses every month, we cannot add a water bill.”
The CTCHC did not respond to Daily Voice’s emails and calls went to an answering service.
Ian Neilson, the City’s Mayco Member for Finance, said CTCHC misled the beneficiaries.
“The statements made by the CEO are incorrect. They have previously circulated this incorrect information to the residents.
“The residents in question will only qualify for indigent benefits once the properties are registered at the Deeds Office in the name of the beneficiaries/tenants.”
He added that the City has placed locks on the accounts to prevent the water or electricity from being disconnected, while the properties are being registered in the name of the beneficiaries.
“The beneficiaries/tenants are urged to at least only pay their current accounts,” she said.