Well-off citizens trying to take advantage of COJ debt relief programme

Johannesburg – City of Joburg’s Finance MMC Matshidiso Mfikoe said that well-off citizens had been trying to take advantage of the metro’s debt relief programme which was open to qualifying residents until the end of December.

The programme is intended to write off about R470 million from the city’s debtors’ book was launched last year to lift Covid-19 burden on indebted ratepayers.

The programme has received 15,000 applications as the city acknowledges that the uptake had been poor so far.

Mfikoe said that the relief programme had seen a fair amount of chancers.

“I can tell you that there are people who can afford to pay the city but they choose not to because they are staying with the elderly and the houses are written in the names of the elderly. They apply even for expanded social packages then when social workers arrive there, they find that the person is working and drives a G7.”

Qualifying residents have to be living in properties whose evaluation is below R1.5 million.

Mfikoe said that they had to carry out stringent assessment processes to ensure that residents who applied for the relief were truly in distress.

“An assessment will be made confirming whether it is true that you have had either a reduction in your salary or you are really unemployed, including contacting the employer, looking at the evaluation of your property so that we are certain that the actual people that must benefit are really benefitting.”

She explained that residents are defaulting mainly on water and electricity.

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