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Sanral a victim of Joburg billing glitch

A Sanral account was among those accessed when a user discovered a flaw in City of Joburg’s billing site.

A Sanral account was among those hacked when a user discovered a flaw in City of Joburg’s billing site. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) says one of its 350 accounts with the City of Johannesburg was among those made visible to the public after a security flaw and possible hack attempt hit the city's billing site.

It emerged on Tuesday that the city's online services system had to be temporarily shut down after a security flaw enabled municipal invoices to be viewed by anyone with an internet connection.

A Johannesburg resident reportedly raised the alarm, reporting the glitch to the city, but was apparently unsuccessful.

But the city eventually stepped in to close the site while it dealt with the problem.

The city now says it's opened a case with the police to investigate how its online billing system was "maliciously" hacked.

The city's Abraham Mahlangu says it believes a user of the site was behind the apparent hack.

"A user who's registered as an e-services user got into the system and, while they had access to their account, went on to look for access to other accounts."

Eyewitness News had sight of Sanral's account which showed it owed the city R55,000.

However, the roads agency says it's disputing the municipal charges and has tried numerous times to resolve the matter with the council.

Earlier this month, the city came under fire after a pre-termination notice was incorrectly delivered to former president Nelson Mandela's Houghton home.

The city has been plagued by billing problems over the past few years with many customers laying complaints for incorrect statements or being overcharged.

Dated 1 August, the invoice stated that Mandela's account had been in arrears for over 30 days.

It also indicated that services would be cut off and legal action taken unless the amount, listed as R6,468.48, was settled within 14 days.

The city apologised for the error, saying the account number and address on the notice belonged to another customer's property in a neighbouring suburb.

The city's Kgamanyane Maphologela also apologised to Johannesburg residents who have faced billing problems.

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