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Gauteng health dept denies ‘taking advantage’ of City of Joburg amid accusations of R240m water bill

Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse said the department of health in the province was taking advantage of the municipality by ignoring its debt.

Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse said the department of health in the province was taking advantage of the municipality by ignoring its debt.

  • The Gauteng Department of Health denies owing the city of Joburg R240 million for a water bill, saying this was “a historical dispute”. 
  • Mayor Mpho Phalatse accused the department of taking advantage of the city by ignoring its water bill.
  • Spokesperson for the department Motalatale Modiba said the city’s debt was up to date.

The City of Johannesburg wants the Gauteng health department to “do the right thing” and settle its R240 million water bill, but the province insists it is up-to-date.   

On Thursday, department spokesperson Motalatale Modiba said the department’s account was up to date and that the debt referred to by the city was a historical dispute on the water and sanitation accounts of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and the Sizwe Tropical Disease Hospital.

Among the issues with the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital account was that it apparently shared a meter with Wits University, which caused billing disputes with the city. 

With the Sizwe Tropical Disease Hospital, Modiba said the ongoing dispute was over a R60 million bill related to a meter reading and water leaks. 

READ | Joburg Water says there will be a water shutdown, Rand Water calls it a ‘malicious hoax’

“This is subject to ongoing discussions between the hospital management and CoJ and Johannesburg Water representatives to find closure on the matter,” said Modiba.

On Tuesday, the City of Joburg said the department owed the amount on its water bill, with Mayor Mpho Phalatse accusing it of taking advantage of the city because the city was not quick to switch off services for non-paying clients. 

“We believe that there is an element of taking advantage of the city by the provincial government because we’re not quick to cut off services from a hospital. It’s difficult, it’s a moral issue, and we believe that they are taking advantage of that,” said Phalatse, adding the city had issued termination notices to owing clients. 

Modiba said the department serviced its debt with the city.

“The Gauteng Department of Health wishes to dismiss the notion that it is taking advantage of the municipality given that health facilities provide essential services. This could not be further from the truth,” said Modiba. 

However, Phalatse urged the department to settle its bills or make payment arrangements with the city.

“You are part of a team that is building this city and we appeal to you to do the right thing. Every rand counts. Please, come into our offices, pay your accounts and if you can’t pay, please make arrangements and at least pay your arrears,” said Phalatse. 

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