Balwin accused of illegal connections

MIDRAND – Some water meters were allegedly not registering, despite continuous use of water.

A Midrand-based property development company, Balwin, is in hot water following allegations of illegalities after the MMC for Finance, Funzela Ngobeni, inspected one of its developments, Kikuyu Estates in Waterfall.

Ngobeni conducted the site inspection on 3 May accompanied by senior specialised officials from the department’s Revenue Enhancement Unit, which included Joburg Water and the planning department.

During the inspection, it was discovered that some water meters were allegedly not registering, despite continued use of water. It was also discovered that the property company allegedly connected water directly from the fire hydrants. Furthermore, it was also discovered that the development is not registered, which means the services are used by tenants and the developers are also illegal.

“This, on its own, is an illegal connection and theft of services that could be directed to service delivery,” said Ngobeni’s acting spokesperson, Deidre Hendricks.

After the inspection, Ngobeni said the township where the development has been built was only declared in December last year, but there were already people living there without an occupancy certificate, which confirms that the property is safe.

“These are some of the things that we need to clamp down on. The City is losing a lot of revenue because of illegalities; because of people connecting to services for free. We need this money to develop the city and upgrade informal settlements,” said Ngobeni. He also mentioned that he expects property developers to abide by the laws of the City. “This is one of the properties that we are clamping down on,” he added.

The whip for the City’s Development Plan Portfolio, Annette Deppe said the City is busy cleaning up the department and has implemented measures to ensure it collects revenue through rates and taxes.

“The City cannot afford individuals or developers connecting to services illegally and not paying. This puts a strain on the infrastructure which is the reason the mayoral committee has declared zero tolerance on corruption and has initiated the inspection of new developments,” she said.

Cheif executive officer for Balwin Properties Steve Brookes confirmed Ngobeni’s visit to the property stating that they were not responsible for the water connection process. “Balwin advises that it is not responsible for the water connection and continues to entrust the landowners with this important element.”

Brookes added that the company was in possession of a section 7(6) approval for the building of its Kikuyu development. An investigation is currently underway to estimate losses attributed to the properties.

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