City of Tshwane officials walk past a PRASA building Pretoria. Photo: Twitter @CityofTshwane

Cutting off works! City of Tshwane recoups almost R500m in debt

People are paying up!
The City of Tshwane has been disconnecting the electricity of big names that owe millions on their rates account.


City of Tshwane officials walk past a PRASA building Pretoria. Photo: Twitter @CityofTshwane

The City of Tshwane has spent the last two weeks playing hardball with big names who have not been paying up their rates accounts. The City of Joburg is now following in its footsteps. But it is the Tshwane administration that has already managed to recoup almost 500 million rand in initial debt. All in just over a week. How? Disconnecting and threatening to disconnect some pretty important buildings and businesses.

City of Tshwane turns off the lights, gets back the money

The City of Tshwane revealed this month that it currently has R17 million in municipal debt. That’s all on unpaid rates and taxes and water/ electricity bills. While the City needs the funds to deliver services, some of the big names owing big money, has caused an uproar.

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Take a look at just some of these names. Some have paid, others have been let down by their landlords, while they merely use the building.

  • UNISA: R140 million
  • University of Pretoria: R34 million
  • PRASA: R28 million
  • Gautrain: R10 million
  • SAPS: R5 million

While the University of Pretoria has questioned the amount the city says it owes, it did pay the amount in full this week. The city says UNISA has also made payment.

The South African Police Service Headquarters building briefly had its power disconnected. While SAPS stressed that it only rents the building, the landlord then paid R5 million within 24 hours.

Even SARS was threatened with disconnection. The revenue service also says its landlord has let it down. The National Department of Health and even a KFC branch found themselves without power.

How was the debt allowed to get so high?

The name-and-shaming going on this week has left many South Africans angry. Not because of what the city is doing. But because some were allowed to build up their accounts with millions of debt and still not get disconnected. While on the other hand, households are often disconnected for just owing thousands.

In Johannesburg, Sandton City Mall was exposed for owing over R150 million to the city. Sandton is supposed to be the richest square mile in Africa.

The City of Tshwane says it managed to disconnect over 400 businesses and government buildings in just one week. Only 2% of them have challenged their debt.

After disconnecting an estate that owes over R20 million on Friday, the city says it will now continue to turn its attention to residential areas that have amassed big debt.

Despite the threats, the city is still insisting that all businesses and residents who approach it to make payment arrangements (even if they can’t afford to pay), will not have their water or electricity disconnected.