21/09/2017 07:21 SAST | Updated 21/09/2017 07:21 SAST

Cape Town Family Battling R1-million 'Historical Debt' Municipal Bill

The family's water has been cut off, but they say the debt is not theirs.

Michael Caristo

A Cape Town family is trying to get rid of a R1-million water bill that the family says was racked up by the previous owners of their smallholding, the Cape Times reported on Thursday.

Three generations of the same family reportedly live on the smallholding in eight buildings. There are 15 families, including two pensioners and 22 adults, the Cape Times reported.

Rafiqah Majiet (34) has reportedly been trying to get rid of the debt since 2011, but the matter remains unresolved.

The Constitutional Court recently ruled that home owners are not responsible for municipal bills racked up by previous owners.

Majiet told the Cape Times: "We bought the land in 2005 and for two years there was no water on the property; we were getting water from the neighbouring farm. In that time, my grandpa and uncle were going back and forth to the city to clarify the matter but getting nowhere.

"Only in the second year did they receive their first bill and that was when they discovered that it was still listed in the previous owner's name. We don't know how the sale went through with the debt still being there, because my grandfather did everything on his own.

"My mother and her siblings tried to go back to the conveyancing attorney once, but they never got hold of him."

Currently, the family's water has been cut for 13 days -– a regular occurrence, according to Majiet.

Majiet reported the issue to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

SAHRC spokeswoman, Gail Smith, told the Cape Times that the complaint was laid in 2015.

She said the SAHRC had had extensive engagement with the city since then, "including an allegations letter directed to the city, responses received, and further engagement with the city on water disconnections in September 2017.

"The SAHRC conducted a site inspection on Tuesday, 19 September and has requested a meeting with the city in order to attempt to resolve the matter. The investigation continues."

A spokesperson for the city, Tarryn Carelse, told the Cape Times that various departments were investigating the matter.