Kouga muni denies mismanaging sewerage levy following fraud charges laid by the DA

The Democratic Alliance (DA) opposition party laid criminal charges with the SAP Crime Investigation unit, the Hawks, on Tuesday this week against the ANC-led Kouga Municipality.

 The charges laid by Kouga Ward Clr Ben Rheeder on 23 July 2013, were for allegedly mismanaging the sewerage levy.  

But the municipality states the allegations are unfounded. “The municipality has been managing the sewerage monies paid by St Francis Bay correctly and we are confident that the Hawks will substantiate this,” a statement to the press today from the municipality said.

“The municipality can assure residents that money is, in fact, being put back into improving the town’s sewerage system. The upgrade of the St Francis Bay sewerage treatment plant, at a cost of some R10-million, is already in progress, with the EIA process having started in April,” the municipality said.

In a statement put out by Rheeder to several newspapers today Rheeder said he laid fraud charges against the Kouga Municipality regarding the management of the St Francis Bay sewerage levy. “St Francis Bay residents whose properties are not connected to the waterborne sewerage system are billed with a sewerage levy on a monthly basis,” Rheeder said.

“Funds received by means of the mentioned levy must be ring-fenced and when more substantial funds have been accumulated, these must be solely used for the extension of the St Francis Bay sewerage system. Since 2006, no extension has been done to the sewerage system.

“Kouga Municipality has not been transparent about the funds collected which appear in their financial statements, despite the numerous requests from the DA to do so. Legal action is therefore deemed to be the only way to secure funds for St Francis ratepayers, due to the non-response to numerous DA requests to the Kouga Municipality to rectify the way in which the sewerage levy is being managed,” Rheeder added.

Kouga Municipality in its statement today refuted the above allegations and provided background information.  It said the sewerage levy paid by St Francis residents was introduced by the St Francis Transitional Local Council (TLC) before Kouga was established. When Kouga was formed, these residents continued to pay this low levy instead of the more expensive standard tariff that applied to all other Kouga residents.

“In other words, these residents were in actual fact paying less than anybody else for the same service. In order to address this discrepancy, the levy was scrapped when the new 2013/2014 budget was approved and the affected residents placed on the same tariff structure as all other Kouga residents,” the municipality said.

“The municipality was perfectly within its rights to do so, as one cannot have a situation where one town is paying less for services than another town under the same jurisdiction.

 “The basic sewerage tariff is applicable to all households, regardless of whether they make use of septic tanks or the waterborne-sewerage system, because it goes towards acquiring and maintaining the necessary equipment and infrastructure to deliver this service,” the municipality added.

(edited)

 

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