Make disputes legal

Piet Liebenberg
INDIVIDUAL ratepayers and residents with a specific problem should formally declare a dispute with the Kouga Local Municipality (KM) through legal channels.
This, says Trevor Watkins, chairman of the Jeffreys Bay Residents’ Association (JBRA), is preferred over a widespread rates boycott.
He said: "Many ratepayers and residents of Jeffreys Bay have ongoing disputes with the municipality over issues such as property valuation, sewage removal, water quality, rates and services payments, and so on.
"In most cases the KM deals with these disputes in its own good time, or fails to deal with them at all, while the ratepayer keeps paying and waiting for a resolution of a sometimes urgent problem.”
Watkins said a widespread rates boycott would need the support of many thousands of residents, many of whom did not have a current, specific problem with the municipality. In addition, a widespread rates boycott would not solve specific problems, but would address governance in the KM as a whole.
He said once the dispute had been declared, the KM had to formally respond to the dispute in writing through its legal department, and all disputed payments, levies and fines may be held in suspension until the resolution of the dispute.
The JBRA has reached an agreement with Blignault & Vennote, a firm of attorneys in Jeffreys Bay, to assist residents with formally filing a letter of dispute with the KM for a fee of R80. This does not include further legal advice, or an assessment of the merits of the case.
Any further legal costs will be for the account of the resident.
Watkins also reminded members and other residents of the annual general meeting of the JBRA on Wednesday February 22 at the Newton Hall at 6 pm. Elza van Lingen, leader of the opposition in the National Council of Provinces, will be the guest speaker.