Not only are these employees in debt to their employer, but councillors from the municipality are also reported to be in default of more than R92 000.

Steelburger/Lydenburg News received a copy of a municipal account of a former employee who, since 2016, has not paid a single cent for rates and taxes other than that of water. In fact, on the latest account, it shows that this former employee’s water account is in arrears amounting to R2 805.

The newspaper asked Puleng Mapheto, spokesman for TCLM, how it is possible for employees not to pay rates and taxes. He said they do pay for these services, but it is deducted from their salaries.

DA councillors Nicko Jansen van Vuuren and Gravett Herbst said, “We as councillors have to pay our accounts the same way any other resident in town does.”

This publication was shown a document in which the Speaker of TCLM, Tiny Ester Mabuza, owes levies for two properties in Burhman and Schoeman streets.

Mabuza owes R43 000 in municipal rates for the property in Burhman Street.

Mabuza did not dispute these debts, but took it upon herself to explain why this situation occurred. “I own three properties in town. The one in Burhman Street had tenants in. They paid rent directly to me and were supposed, just like any other tenant, to pay the rates and taxes. This, they did not do. In December when they moved out of the house, I went to the revenue department and asked why the account is in arrears. It was then brought to my attention that they never paid any levies on the account. I am a servant of the community. I cannot owe money to TCLM. I immediately made arrangements that the outstanding amounts be deducted from my salary.”

Mabuza confirmed that other officials and councillors also owe rates and taxes. “The same applies to them. The outstanding amounts will also be collected from them. I am a public servant, and we have to lead by example.”

She and MMC for finance, Cllr Markus Mashego, told the newspaper that TCLM’s biggest challenge is the Eskom debt. “We encourage people to tell us why they are in debt on their account. We then help them to come up with a suitable payment solution. Every cent helps.

“We can’t preach payment and not pay ourselves. That is a sure way to discourage the residents from paying their accounts.”

Narda Vermaak

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