KZN schools struggle with utility bills

A number of KwaZulu-Natal schools are struggling to pay high utility bills.

PIETERMARITZBURG - A Pietermaritzburg high school's water was cut off in December, over the non-payment of a R2-million municipal bill.

Supply has been restored but it's highlighted a bigger problem that a number of KwaZulu-Natal schools are struggling to pay high utility bills.

READ: Municipalities water bill payment deadline reached 

Pupils at Georgetown High School have spent very little time in class since the start of the new term.

Until Thursday, there had been no water, forcing the school to send pupils home early.

An unpaid R2-million water bill  accumulated since 2018 led the Msunduzi Municipality to cut off the supply.

Msunduzi mayor, Mzimhulu Thebolla said, "we have since reconnected the school back because we have had a discussion with the MEC and the district director. They are coming on board now, they will be paying not only for that school but for other schools that are section 21 that are owing us."

READ: KZN water crisis taking toll on residents

Georgetown is one of many schools battling with bills they can't afford and the education department feels municipalities are being unreasonable.

KZN Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said, "we are not a profit-generating department, we are not like private businesses but we are charged in the same way that businesses are charged so we are in engagements with these all municipalities across the province to deal with the billing rates, the billing system but also to ensure that the municipality, all the municipalities help us to deal with illegal connections in our schools."

The MEC said some schools were billed for utilities during the holidays when no one was at school and he wants an investigation to determine why.