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SA, let me introduce you to a new concept — it’s called ...

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SA, let me introduce you to a new concept — it’s called ‘consequences’

The ‘chancers’ who choose not to pay for their electricity now have something to consider

Columnist

The City of Tshwane made headlines this week by cutting the power to local offices of the police and Sars over unpaid bills, but, while they were undoubtedly good news, those headlines once again revealed the skewed and somewhat naive picture we have of corruption and dysfunction in SA.

To be clear, I think it is excellent that Tshwane has finally introduced some deployed cadres to alien and upsetting notions like consequences and that services and utilities need to be paid for. One could argue that SA’s general reluctance to pay for electricity has its roots in something admirable — the broader campaign of non-compliance against the apartheid state — but its modern, much less heroic and patriotic iteration is one of the reasons Eskom is in its current hole.

I was struck, however, by the focus of the headlines and social media sound bites, which mostly named SAPS and Sars but failed to mention that the crackdown on non-payers involved cutting the power to over 400 other entities described as “businesses”; in other words, that the overwhelming majority of offenders were private landlords, not the state. Even Sars, it seemed, wasn’t entirely to blame, being a tenant of a private company...

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