Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN
Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has asked the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) and the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (Irba) to help the city recover money owed to it by businesses.

Mashaba said on Thursday that he had written to the two bodies to "raise serious concern with the number of businesses [which] are failing to pay their municipal accounts and who have disappeared from our database".

"I have requested the intervention of Saica and Irba to ensure its members are aware of these challenges and to advance greater ethical practices when it comes to accounting and the auditing of businesses in Johannesburg."

Mashaba said it was estimated that the city was losing between R7bn and R10bn in revenue a year as a result of municipal accounts that had been removed from the billing system.

In February‚ the City of Johannesburg launched Operation Buya Mthetho‚ a multi-departmental operation aimed at enforcing by-laws and bringing back the rule of law in the city.

The operation is being jointly conducted by key city departments and entities, such as the city’s group forensic and investigation service (GFIS); the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD); [the city’s] environmental health‚ social development‚ and infrastructure services departments; and the city’s legal, and development planning and urban management departments.

The operation targets properties across Johannesburg that are not paying for municipal services.

Mashaba said that, to date‚ the city had identified more than 2‚000 accounts that had been deliberately removed from the city’s billing system. "Of particular concern to me‚ is the number of well-known businesses and establishments that have been identified as not paying for municipal services."