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Ekurhuleni Downgrade to Junk Status Brings Rates & Taxes Increases

The Ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded five of South Africa’s largest metropolitan municipalities to junk status, citing concerns around liquidity and finances.

In a notice this past weekend, Moody’s stated that the affected municipalities include:

  • The City of Ekurhuleni;
  • The City of Cape Town;
  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality;
  • The City of Johannesburg;
  • The City of uMhlathuze (Richard’s Bay).

“The rating downgrades reflect rising liquidity pressure as a result of material shortfalls in revenue collection, that Moody’s expects to last, in the context of very weak growth,” the ratings agency said.

“South African regional and local governments are likely to draw down on cash buffers, with different starting positions, eroding their capacity to absorb future shocks.”

On average, the rated municipalities generate more than 80% of their operating revenues from fees for services provided, it said. Based on the information currently available, very weak growth is likely to result in a more marked decline in collection rates than Moody’s previously expected. Some municipalities have reported declines of as much as 10% in revenue collection during 2020, shortfalls that are likely to be widespread and persistent.

While the downgrade will have a direct and considerable impact on the finances of these municipalities, this could subsequently be passed onto consumers through higher municipal rates and taxes, said Saveshen Pillay, director at Credit Ratings Analytics.

“The rationale for these downgrades are as a result of the operating environment over the last 12 months and the Covid-19  pandemic,” Pillay told the SABC.

“It doesn’t really talk to the recent looting and rioting which has just taken place, and that is a significant risk event.”

Pillay added that the deterioration in credit quality for these municipalities will lead to an increase in rates and taxes for households, alongside the violence and looting.

“The financial burden of this will obviously have to fall on someone, and it is obviously going to affect the revenue collection abilities.

“If you look at the National Treasury and government, the providing of additional subsidies will likely be quite difficult, so you are then left in the tricky situation of burdening your existing revenue base with higher rates and taxes to obviously cushion the impacts of the riots and looting.”

Two Dead in JHB Protests

Police are investigating the deaths of two people – one in Alexandra and the other in Jeppestown while trying to contain pockets of violence in some parts of Gauteng.  Police officers found the body of a man in Jeppestown late on Sunday.  Several shops were looted and properties set alight as violence in the area escalated.  Paramedics were forced to flee the scene for their own safety.

Emergency services were called out to a fire at the Naledi Mall overnight, but when they arrived, they could not perform their duties due to the protests.  Emergency services William Ntladi said fires were also started in other shopping centers in Gauteng.

“Shops were vandalised and attacked. The whole thing happened during the night where emergency services had to pull back physically.”

Brenda Muridili, spokesperson for the police’s, said they were on high alert: “The operational intelligence branch is working around the clock to enhance the operational capacity at a provincial level in response to incidents in which people appear to be undermining the authority of the state.”

Groups of protestors and opportunists ran amok in central Johannesburg, Alexandra, Vosloorus and Ekurhuleni, and other parts of the province on Sunday. They torched property and cars, intimidating anyone who got in their way or attempted to intervene, and ransacked businesses. Members of the media were also threatened and forced to cover the events from afar while trying to stay safe.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his address to the nation last night, said those behind the violent protests and anarchy would be arrested and prosecuted.

“As a nation, we will not tolerate any acts of criminality. We will not tolerate any acts of vandalism. Those who are involved in acts of violence will be arrested and prosecuted,” he said.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the provincial government has deployed the MECs for Community Safety and Economic Development to monitor and assess the Mooi River area where much of the violence erupted during the weekend.

Mugg & Bean Closure Debacle

The Mayor of Ekurhuleni this weekend posted on Twitter that the Mugg & Bean Coffee shop chain would be closing its doors permanently.  The tweet read:

“Morning people of South Africa, as we are busy arguing why Zuma must be incarcerated, Mugg & Bean SA has announced its permanent CLOSURE in SA.  Since the start of the pandemic, when are we going to start discussing our problems that confront our people?”

In the now-deleted Twitter post, Masina took to his Twitter account to discuss the situation with the former President Jacob Zuma and the gatherings at Nkandla, as well as the current situation with Covid-19 and the Level 4 Lockdown’s effect on businesses.

Mugg & Bean quickly responded to the rumours in a tweet: “We are aware of #fakenews doing the rounds. @Mugg_and_Bean is not closing.  While sit-down dining is not currently allowed, the majority of restaurants remain open to bring you your favourite M&B meals via delivery, collection and takeaway.”

Mugg & Bean had to act fast and assure its many loyal customers that the news of the closure was in fact “fake news”, adding that it has only disallowed sit down eating in line with current level 4 lockdown measures.

 

 

Collect Your Unapproved Building Plans

The City of Ekurhuleni calls on those who submitted building plans that were not approved between 2014 and 2019 to collect them before the end of April 2021.

These are plans submitted and not approved where owners did not do any follow-ups with the City Planning Department to check if there were corrections that needed to be made to their plans.

According to law, a property owner wanting to build or extend a building must have building plans drawn up by an architect or a drafter and submit to the City Planning Department for approval.  In some instances the owner is advised to make certain alterations to the plan before it can be approved.

What is the Process to Build a Custom Home

Building your own custom home is an exciting project to look forward to but it can be overwhelming if you’re not sure how the process works, what to expect and who manages what aspects. In this article, we will explain the various steps in the process of building a new custom home. 

What is the process to build a custom home?

Please note that this article will not give you a step-by-step guide on how to actually build a house from laying foundations to securing the roof. It will rather guide you through the first steps and initial processes involved in the project, through to your all exciting moving day. It will help you to understand how and when things happen, who usually manages what steps and what to expect and plan for when building your own custom home.

Part I: First Steps in the Building Process

  1. Research and draft home plans and design ideas
  2. Research home builders and get a rough quotation
  3. Make sure that your home design and budget fit
  4. Finalize your designs and decide on specifications and finishes with detailed architectural plans
  5. Get municipal approval
  6. Apply for utilities and services including electricity
  7. Finalize the quotation and budget with your home builder
  8. Apply for finance if you’re building with a bond
  9. Enter into a written contract with your builder

Part II: Breaking Ground to Moving Day

Your building contractor will then take over to move the project through the following steps:

10. Have your soil tested and classified
11. Register the new build with the NHBRC
12. Establish the building site and begin construction
13. Manage progress reports and payment schedules
14. Manage the variation order process in case of changes and amendments
15. Have the build inspected at key stages through the construction process
16. Complete the building process and acquire all of the necessary certificates of compliance
17. Manage the final account reconciliation
18. Apply for the Occupancy Certificate from the local building inspector

At this point, your new custom home will be ready to move into! The final step in the building process comes one month after you have had occupancy of the house. You will:

19. Alert your building contractor of any snags that need to be rectified
20. Pay the final retainer amount

Building without following an approved building plan may lead to the concerned structure or building being demolished at the cost of the owner.

Residents are urged to contact their nearest Customer Care Centre to do follow-ups on their submitted building plans. They can also contact the regional managers:

South Region:

Tabudi Tebele – Tabudi.tebele@ekurhuleni.gov.za  /011 999 4228

North Region:

Thapelo Mogatusi – Thapelo.Mogatusi@ekurhuleni.gov.za  /011 999 3975

Eastern Region:

Anton Basson – Anton.Basson@ekurhuleni.gov.za  / 011 999 8720

Five men beat, rob Ekurhuleni commuters inside taxis

The Ekurhuleni Metro Police has asked residents to be vigilant when boarding taxis, following complaints of commuters being robbed inside moving minibus taxis.

Spokesperson Kobeli Mokheseng said they have been inundated with calls from alleged victims who said they were robbed while commuting.

The latest reported incident was on a Saturday, January 23 when a woman in her late twenties boarded a taxi to take her to the Germiston CBD.

The white Toyota Quantum minibus taxi picked her up in Dinwiddie area, on Blackreef road between De Beer and Kasteel roads and next to the Reef shopping Mall at around 2pm. Inside were five male occupants including the driver.

“She said that when the taxi was in motion, four passengers took out a knife and a firearm and started assaulting her,” Mokheseng said.

“She was robbed of her jewellery, a cellphone and her purse. She had R450 cash and a bank card in her purse. She also said a banking app on her cellphone was accessed and R1 000, which is her daily limit, was immediately transferred by the crooks.

“She was dropped off injured and disoriented after two hours, on the side of the roadway in Primrose area, by the cemetery.

“A good Samaritan came to her aid and they proceeded to the nearest police station.”

Mokheseng said paramedics were called and the woman was taken to the nearest hospital, for treatment.

She later learnt that her attackers had accessed her second bank account and gone on a shopping spree, spending R10 000.

The second incident was reported on a Friday, February 5, in Katlehong where a man in his thirties boarded a taxi from Sontonga road next to the Caltex filling station.

“He was destined for Germiston and crooks in a white Toyota Quantum minibus taxi stopped with five males inside. They also beat him up, robbed him and dropped him in Vosloorus next to a river.

“The South African Police Service, Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department Taxi Task Team and other Law Enforcers, are investigating.

“Members of the community and taxi commuters, are advised to be alert at all times and requested, to report any criminal activity to the nearest EMPD precinct, police station or to dial 08600 10111, alternatively 112, on their cellphones, so that this lawbreakers could be brought to book,” he said.

Ekurhuleni Fulfils 109-Years-Old’s Birthday Wish

Cllr Mzwandile Masina made Gogo Moleleki’s 109-years birthday when he visited her home at Nhlapho Section in Katlehong bearing gifts.

“My only wish was to see the mayor of the City for my birthday and get a colour television set – and I am happy that my wish came true,” said Gogo Moleleki.

Mayor Masina, accompanied by MMC for Health and Social Services Cllr Nomadlozi Nkosi donated a television with full satellite subscription, groceries, and a birthday cake.

“Gogo Moleleki was amongst the women who staged a march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria. It is women like her who have paved the way for women’s voices to be heard and rights protected in South Africa,” said the executive mayor.

The mayor further thanked those who donated items towards making Gogo’s 109-years birthday celebration a memorable one for her and her family.

MMC Nkosi made arrangements for a team of health workers to visit Gogo Moleleki’s home for routine check-ups.

The liberation struggle veteran Gogo Moleleki turned 109 on 14 February 2021.

7 Shops destroyed in Brakpan fire

Ekurhuleni Emergency Services has confirmed that seven shops have burned down to the ground, while eight residential flats have been affected by a blaze that broke out in Brakpan.

Firefighters are still on the scene dampening the buildings before police officers move in to investigate the cause of the fire.

Three firetrucks are currently stationed here while firefighters work in pairs, dousing the smouldering wood and debris.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Friday morning and spread to several shops, leaving many business owners with nothing to salvage.

The emergency service’s William Ntladi said that firefighters managed to contain the blaze early enough.

“When we arrived, the shops were well alight. We believe there wasn’t anybody [inside], the shops were not open by that time, so we can’t tell what the actual cause of the fire is. That still needs to be investigated.”

Those who have lost everything in the fire are sitting on the pavement on the opposite side of the street, drinking tea to calm them down.

Many are too angry and distraught to speak about the devastation.

Local News: Updated loadshedding schedules for Ekurhuleni

The City of Ekurhuleni has amended its loadshedding schedule to respond to customers needs and provide for up to Stage 8.

The amended schedules, which has already been uploaded on the City’s website, is applicable immediately.

When Eskom declares Stage 1 or 2 loadshedding, the latest schedule that is now available will be the one that the City uses in implementing loadshedding in areas in Ekurhuleni that are provided electricity by the City.

The loadshedding schedules for,
Alberton
Benoni
Boksburg
Brakpan
Edenvale
Germiston
Kempton Park
Nigel
Tembisa,
can be downloaded here.

 

Local News: Tombstones destroyed by vandals

The Star visited the Vosloorus cemetery, which resembled a demolition site as more than half of the graves with tombstones had been vandalised.

Decimated tombstones at a major Ekurhuleni cemetery have drawn the ire of families, whose loved ones’ graves were destroyed due to an alleged lack of security by the city. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

It was unclear what the motive for the destruction was, but the security wall meant to protect the graves was in a porous condition, and the city said it was the entry point for the vandals.

After The Star had sent questions to the city regarding the vandalism, Makhosazana Mabaso, Ekurhuleni’s member of the mayoral committee for environment resources and waste management services, released a public statement expressing sympathy to families for the destruction.

“I am deeply shocked and saddened by this heinous criminal act.

“A cemetery is a peaceful final resting place for our loved ones, and should be treated with respect and dignity.

“We will not allow criminal activities to prevail in our facilities, and we are working with law enforcers to get to the bottom of this situation,” Mabaso said.

However, when The Star followed up with Ekurhuleni on whether it would help families replace dozens of destroyed tombstones, after having acknowledged that it was responsible for “the upkeep of the cemeteries and provision of protection that is sufficient for such sacred facilities”, the city said it would not.

“While the incident is most unfortunate, the city will not assume financial responsibility,” said Ekurhuleni spokesperson Themba Gadebe.

Betty Seboka, 64, whose husband’s tombstone was destroyed, said that the city’s stance had exacerbated the grief she felt on Friday when she saw the shocking state of her life partner’s resting place.

Seboka, whose husband was buried in 1994, said it was heartbreaking that her children worked hard to ensure their father had a dignified resting place, and paid almost R24 000 for the tombstones to be erected in 2018.

“Then there are African customs that we do to unveil the tombstones that also cost a lot of money. The city needs to pay for this damage because we thought our loved ones were secured in the cemetery, but they were not,” an emotional Seboka said.

Her daughter, Motshidisi, confirmed that Ekurhuleni had opened a criminal case and that her family had given a statement to police.

The Star

Local News: Partial Opening of Public Libraries

Due to COVID-19 and the State of Disaster restrictions, the City’s libraries were closed from end of March. Permission has now been granted by Minister of Arts and Culture to partially re-open some libraries.

Not all libraries and services can be opened immediately due to the Lockdown Level 2 restrictions to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus.

The following services will open from Wednesday, 16 September 2020

  • Study facilities at libraries listed below.
  • Limited number of students allowed to adhere to social distancing.
  • Two slots per day Monday to Friday: 9h00-12h00 and 14h00 to 16h00
  • Online research questions answered
  • Virtual Libraries
  • Circulation services at identified libraries
  • Drop and collect.

Patrons can either phone/email the library to request books. Librarians will select the books and put them together. These can be collected at a specific arranged time. All the books returned will be put in quarantine for at least seven days (7).

Unfortunately, due to the logistics and exposure NO computer facilities can be used. Patrons can use their own devices in the study facility through the Wi-Fi connectivity.

List of Libraries


Photo Credit: Unsplash
Ekurhuleni

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Tame Communications (known as tameTIMES) was established in 1997. This long-established popular community title includes the key shopping centres:  Alberton City, Mall...

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