THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has dragged Church ya Johane we Masowe to court over unpaid water charges and rates amounting to over $64, 000. The BCC last week filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court seeking an order compelling Church ya Johane we Masowe to settle a debt of $64,166,83 accrued over a year.
The council, through its lawyers, R Ndlovu and Company, accused the church of deliberately neglecting to pay the money despite having initially agreed on a payment plan.
In court papers, the BCC, represented by its chamber secretary, Sikhangele Zhou, is the applicant while Church ya Johane we Masowe was cited as the sole respondent.
Church ya Johane we Masowe is the registered owner of an immovable property at Donnington West in Bulawayo and has an account with the council which is being billed monthly.
“The respondent neglected to fully settle its monthly bills and this accumulated arrears in the sum of $64,166,83 as at September 2014. The arrears were attracting a monthly interest charge of six percent per annum in terms of the Urban Councils Act,” said Zhou in her founding affidavit.
She said in February last year, council wrote a letter demanding payment from the church.
Church ya Johane we Masowe acknowledged the debt and made an undertaking to pay $1,500 every month.
“Having made a payment proposal, the respondent neglected to pay as per agreement and as a result summons were filed on August 31, 2014 for payment of the owed amount, but the respondent entered an appearance to defend solely to delay the finalisation of the court proceedings,” said Zhou.
She said Church ya Johane we Masowe lacked a bona fide defence to the council’s claim and argued that a summary judgment should be granted in BCC’s favour.
In June, the BCC also dragged the Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe (AFMZ) and Matebele Steam Laundry to court for failing to settle a debt of more than $17, 000 in rates and taxes accrued over a period of six years.
BCC has resorted to taking defaulters to court as the cash strapped local authority seeks to recover money owed in rates and water charges. The municipality is owed over $90 million by defaulters.