THE City of Windhoek (CoW) warned that residents whose municipal accounts are in areas will have to pay up or face disconnection of water and electricity.
The CoW said in an urgent notice that it has already started with the process of disconnecting the electricity supply to homes where the owner or tenant are in arrears. In some cases, people with pre-paid electricity meters have been disconnected because they are behind on the payment for other utilities such as water supply and other services rendered by the local authority.
Lawyer Norman Tjombe said blocking the usage of pre-paid electricity to force the payment of outstanding water and property taxes, is illegal.
“Pre-paid electricity is paid for already, and cannot be terminated because the person owes money for other utilities,” he said.
Tjombe noted that the municipality is not a commercial enterprise, but renders services that are basic, fundamental in nature, and thus indispensable for the sustenance of life of the people.
“Poorer residents are in more need of these services to survive. When implementing measures to recover debt for these services, the municipality must be caring and compassionate in its approach,” he said adding that in the trying and difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic when the ordinary people have seen their income, as meager as it used to be, dwindling, even more, it will be most brutal to terminate the basic services to poor households.
He said that it is, after all, required to wash hands as frequently as possible to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“By terminating water supply to households, the City of Windhoek will directly contribute to a spike of COVID-19 cases, just as it neglected sanitation in the poor settlements leading to an outbreak of hepatitis-E, with deadly consequences,” he said.