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City of Joburg suspects tampering in billing system failure

Officials say over 400,000 account holders will not receive their bills for the month of April after the automated system suffered a major failure.

The Hillbrow Tower as photographed from Ponte Tower in Johannesburg. Picture: Ryan Wynn.

JOHANNESBURG – The City of Joburg is now investigating whether tampering led to a massive failure of its billing system.

Officials say over 400,000 account holders will not receive their bills for the month of April after the automated system suffered a major failure.

But they say the nature of the failure makes them believes someone may have tampered with the system.

The City’s Luyanda Mfeka says: “What we request our residents to do is for them to continue to make their payments as per the billing of their accounts.”

The city also says nearly a further 100,000 account statements have been issued incorrectly.

Officials say the system that has failed in this way is an automated system, leading to suspicions about why this has happened.

Mfeka said: “Looking at the nature of the failure, there is a suspicion that the system was ultimately tampered with and that is why the mayor has ordered the city to begin an investigation.”

Officials say an error like this in the automated system has never happened before.

Mfeka said they’re trying to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

“The city is looking into finalising all bills within this coming week. And what that may mean for some of our residents is that they may receive two bills for the month of April.”

REVENUE COLLECTION

Earlier this week, Johannesburg's Finance Member of Municipal Council Rabelani Dagada said the new administration aims to improve revenue collection to ensure better services for residents.

Dagada delivered the first budget speech under a coalition government.

Billions have been allocated to City Power, Joburg Water, infrastructure health and transport.

The budget is about 85% dependent on revenue raised by the city and, therefore, property rates will increase by 6.2% and electricity tariffs go up by 2.28%

Dagada said the previous administration had an opportunity to increase revenue collection by R5.3 billion per year.

“This is as a result of customers that are not being billed, many of whom are commercial customers. The previous administration failed to act on the recommendations of this report. However, we will act on them to ensure revenue collection.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)