The Matjhabeng Municipality in the Free State has disconnected the electricity supply to 72 public schools in the area because their electricity accounts are in arrears.
According to the municipality, a total of 79 public schools in the area owe the municipality about R11m in overdue fees.
“Considering that the municipality owes Eskom R600m, the R11m owed by public schools is really minimal,” says David van Vuuren, the DA’s chief whip in the Free State legislature.
The provincial Department of Public Works is responsible for the payment of bulk services to these no-fee schools and it has failed to make timely payments.
According to Public Works MEC Sam Mashinini, the department has a shortfall of more than R265m for the payment of municipal services across the province.
Maditse Seoke, head of the Free State public works department, told News24 he was not aware of the electricity supply to the schools being cut.
“Until now the municipalities have been patient, because they knew the bills will be paid eventually. But their own debt is running into the millions, with the result that they are under pressure to get the money owed to them,” said Leonie Kleynhans, MPL and member of the portfolio committee on public works.