It scares the living daylights out of me listening to colleagues relating their experiences with government institututions.

A day or two ago, a female colleague proudly told me how she sorted out someone presumably acting on behalf Johannesburg City Power. They have a pre-paid meter installed but had someone knowledgable “fix” it in order to record less usage than the actual.  A neighbour apparantly phoned her at work, saying that there was someone inside her property claiming to be from City Power removing the circuit breaker. This person was confronted by the neighbour and said that the meter was tampered with, hence their action.  My colleague asked the neighbour to obtain a cellular number of this person and subsequently spoke to him.  She threatened that he was inside her property illegally and that she is on her way.  She arrived home and accosted the man, informing him that she is calling the police as he not only trespassed but stole the circuit breaker. Other neigbours joined in the commotion as they too had the same issue.  The man subsequently re-connected the power to all the households.

The lady then instructed her ex-husband to get the “fixer” out to restore the meter to its original settings as well as to be on guard as she expected the City Power people to return.  This apparently happened and her husband hit the man after they got into an argument.

Accordingly, no assault charge was laid against her ex-husband which “proves” that City Power is in the wrong and that the representative acted illegally.  Her indignation does not stop here.  Another neighbour claimed to have paid the culprit R850.00 in order to turn a blind eye and not disconnect her electricity.  This is further proof to my colleague that the City Power guy or guys are just targeting honest, hardworking people and ripping them off while enriching themselves illegally.

I do not even want to try and figure out the truth here.  I am stunned at the anger and self-righteousness with which the story was told, not to mention how proud she was of “sorting out” this official.

A few months ago, another colleague also told me how he had to scramble to have his pre-paid meter re-set as they were forewarned of a looming inspection.  He found this hilarious as he outsmarted the system.

A while ago we discussed service delivery in general and Eskom in particular.  Some colleagues responded by saying they refuse to pay electricity bills.  When they are cut off, they simply rig their own connections again.  Stupidly I asked why they did not pay the bills.  They were absolutely flabbergasted that I could ask this question.  The unanimous reply was “why should we? We don’t pay and we have electricity.”

The next parastatal that came under scrutiny was the SABC.  I mentioned that five years ago I uncluttered my life and got rid of my television set.  Several affadavits and an open invition to inspect my home in order to verify that I do not have a television set only resulted in a summons to pay all outstanding license fees. I was met with raucous laughter.  The frown and question marks in my eyes solicited the following: “why did you pay your t.v. license in the first place?” Good question, why indeed should I or any other South African pay for any service? We must be stupid if we do.

I did enquire how it was possible to purchase a television set as suppliers require a customer to produce a valid license.  “We just borrow a license from someone and present it.”

Words fail me.  No, I’m lying, I do have one: Eish!

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Johan van Zyl

I was born on 6 June 1961, six days into the new Republic of South Africa and the 17th anniversary of D-Day. For the moment I am employed in the private Sector as a Logistics professional, residing in Johannesburg – where I was born and bred. Apparently there are only two types of people in the world: those who make things happen and those who wonder what the hell just happened. I am an aspiring novelist – aren’t we all – and love to wonder about the simplicity as well as complicity that make us human, although I sometimes wonder if we have really evolved from being single cell organisms. I love life as well as a handful of people. Next to being outdoors, reading and writing are high on my priority list. I love company, even my own – sometimes.