Relief For Cash-Strapped Pensioners, City Of Joburg Offers To Write Off Debt

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Pensioners residing in Johannesburg whose water and lights accounts are in arrears need not be cut off and could instead have the amounts they owe written off.

The relief comes as a result of amendments made by the City of Joburg (COJ) to the Debt Rehabilitation program criteria, which was passed unopposed on Thursday, 26 April 2022.

The biggest change in the benefits is that 100% of the 90-day debt will be written off if the applicant receives only a government pension, or is registered as indigent on the city’s database.

Commenting on the relief, MMC Julie Suddaby said: “In our engagements with small business owners, NGOs, churches, old age homes, and body corporates, we heard that many of our customers have been hard hit by the pandemic.”

She said the COJ had responded positively. The amendments are with “immediate effect”.

Other changes to the Debt Rehabilitation program criteria to qualify for the relief benefit include:

• The property value that qualifies for rates exemptions has been raised. Properties valued at less than R2.5m qualify – up from less than R1.5m.

• People with a letter of authority from the master of the high court in the case of a deceased estate may now also apply.

• Old age homes, orphanages and Body Corporates may now also apply.

“The adopted amendments for the Debt Rehabilitation program goes a long way to reducing the stress of our customers,” said Suddaby.

“The program will ease the debt burden of qualifying customers as they work to get back on their feet financially, and it will provide a basis for the rehabilitation of the City’s debtors over the next three years.”

All those who now qualify for the debt rehabilitation programme must apply quickly, as the deadline to receive applications is 30 June 2022.