Under the spotlight …

The Free Basic Services unit is a unit attached to the revenue section within the Budget and Treasury office. Its main task is to provide free basic services to indigent and destitute residents within the Nkonkobe municipal area.

The Free Basic Services provided by the municipality include refuse removal, electricity and alternative energy (paraffin) to areas where there is no Eskom grid.

The municipality provides free electricity into two categories: in the areas directly supplied by the municipality (those such as Newtown, Hillside and all the Fort Beaufort locations (Tini-Dubu).  Other areas are supplied by Eskom which the Municipality only pays through claims made by residents to Eskom.

Areas to which the municipality provides free basic refuse removal include Alice (Golf Course, Hillcrest and Ntselamanzi) and Fort Beaufort (Newtown, Hillside, Golf Course and Tini-Dubu).

Alternative energy (Paraffin) on the other hand is supplied twice a year to the following areas (the so called previously farm areas) Upper and Lower Blinkwater, Gonzana, Pickardy, Mankazana, Oakdene, Roma, Dyala, Rietfontein, Mount Pleasant, Woburn, Readsdale, Katburg and Phillipton.

Qualification criteria

To qualify for the indigent subsidy one must meet the following requirements:

1. Must be a resident within the Nkonkobe Municipality jurisdiction;

2. Must be in possession of a valid South African barcoded Identity Document;

3. The applicant must be a bona fide lessee with a valid legal agreement from the Owner of the Property;

4. Documentary proof of total household Income (salary advice, SASSA statement, letter from the employer, bank statement)

5. The combined gross income of all occupants/dependants in a household must not exceed the threshold of the income of not more than two state pensions per month with exclusion of child and foster care grant.

6. The applicant may not apply for any other property in addition to the previously registered property.

7. The surviving spouse/child or dependents of the deceased may apply for the subsidy if they qualify.

 

Registration process

Registration is carried out on a yearly basis in order to update our Indigent register.

The register is carried out by Ward Committee members who are supposed to do door-to-door registration or to carry out registration in a meeting situation. Ward committee members are advised to solicit assistance from civil organisations or traditional leaders.

Before registration, indigent forms are distributed to ward committees; and on the distribution date refresher workshops on the filling-in of the forms are carried out by FBS officials. In a case where a ward committee member is of the opinion that he/she is unable to conduct registration alone then he/she can request assistance from the FBS office.

The process of inclusion of applicants in the Eskom data base takes a considerable time due to the fact that Eskom is servicing many municipalities (45 ) - in the Eastern Cape alone - for free basic services. This at times causes people not to receive their free service on time, such areas include: Ward 1; Ward 2; part of ward 3 (mxhelo area); Ward 5; Ward 6; Ward 7; Part of ward 8 (cimezile, mdeni, wezo/skolweni, mazoka ); Ward 9; Ward 10; Ward 11; Ward 12; Ward 13; Ward 14; Ward 15; Ward 16; Ward 17; Ward 18 and Ward 19.

At the workshops conducted by FBS staff the Ward Committee members are asked to supply the office with such cases either telephonically or compiles a list of those people so that Eskom can be informed and supplied with such cases and requested to speed up the application process.

It is a requirement that people should re-register every year as people’s circumstances and status changes - varying from employment, wage increases and death. This affects the house ownership as only house owners are eligible for the free service. In special cases, which include child-headed households, rentals and the death of the registered house owner, a letter of authority is required for registration.

Required Documents

· Valid South African Identity Document;

· SASSA statement (for old age pensioners);

· Police affidavit ( for unemployed people);

· Bank statement, pay slip or letter from employer (for employed people);

· Death certificate (in case of the unforeseen death of a house owner);

· Letter of authority (if the person does not own the house); and a

· Meter number.

Challenges

¨ Forms not filled in correctly;

¨ Forms submitted without meter numbers; and

¨ Meter boxes that have been changed but not reported timeously to the office for submission to Eskom.

These delay the application process.

FBS Staff

Mr Sipho Mnqayi (co-ordinator)

Mrs Milisa Bongco (FBS Officer)

Mr Mncedisi Baba (FBS Officer)

Mr Mawande Mbulali (FBS Officer)

Ms Nomaxabiso Tikise (FBS Officer)

Mr Luvo Mbane (FBS Officer)

 

Written by: Siyasanga Hompashe