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City in water billing system ‘cover-up’

Written by on July 2, 2024

… resident overcharged by N$1m while another account of N$90 000 disappeared from the system

The City of Windhoek has been accused of covering up a faulty billing system for over two years.

This involves, among others, a case where a client’s water bill shot up to N$1 million within a month.

The billing controversy, branded ‘top secret’ by some city officials, involves another municipal account whose bill of around N$90 000 was erased from the system.

Although the client of the N$1 million bill eventually won a court case to fix the error this year, sources say the problem is still widespread – especially at the time when the city has been dragging residents to debt collector RedForce Debt Management for failing to pay.

City of Windhoek strategic executive Fillemon Neputa wrote a memo to the municipality’s chief executive Moses Matyayi on 8 February this year.

Fillemon Neputa

In the memo, titled ‘Solar Account Irregularities’, Neputa confirmed that an investigation conducted by the information and communication technology (ICT) team discovered accounts imported from the financial system (Solar) with wrong customer information. The billing system used at the municipality is called Solar.

The investigation found that one resident’s account showed a payment of N$5 000 on 27 April 2023. However, the city’s system shows the same account with N$35 800 on 5 August 2023.

Neputa said the investigation discovered that the irregularities with the account showed that the error occurred within the city of Windhoek’s system and not the Solar billing system.

“BCX (the financial management software solution for the municipality) conducted an investigation and reverted citing possible irregularities that needed City of Windhoek’s attention …They further indicated that these irregularities could not have been done on Solar…This was done from within City of Windhoek’s servers,” Neputa said in the memo.

Neputa said the technology department had a meeting to establish how to identify who had access to manipulate the accounts. However, they could not discover this, as the system does not keep logs for more than 30 days.

The investigation identified eight more municipal accounts with the same irregularities.


City of Windhoek spokesperson Harold Akwenye told The Namibian on Sunday that the city is aware of the irregularities in their water billing system.

However, he said the exact duration and severity of the problem is still under investigation.

Akwenye said the municipality has appointed forensic investigators to look into the irregularities and uncover the exact number of accounts that have been affected by the errors and inflated figures.

Sources say the city has approached Deloitte for the investigation.

Ankwenye said the City of Windhoek did not notify the public of the faulty water billing system because the city wanted to do an internal investigation first.

“Once we have comprehensive findings from the forensic investigation, we will formally communicate the details to the public to ensure full transparency,” he said.

“We are committed to full transparency regarding the forensic investigation findings once completed. Besides, we are reviewing and strengthening our internal controls to prevent future occurrences and to restore public trust,” he said.

Harold Akwenye


The ‘top secret’ billing controversy also involves City of Windhoek officials erasing a municipal account with a bill of around N$90 000 from the system.

Emails sent in October 2023, and seen by The Namibian, show that top city officials have been discussing the problem of over charging since last year.

In one email dated 16 October 2023, a municipality employee requested the account history of an account belonging to Olitasha Investments, opened in November 2022.

City officials could not find the account on the system.

One of the emails came from Abel Isaacks who works in the city’s finance department.

“I really don’t know what happened. But I can’t find any transactions on the account. Not even the payment history that is listed in your email,” he says in an email.

A source familiar with this matter says the city has been covering up this error.

The source added: “Ask whether all accounts handed to RedForce Debt Management are indeed correctly billed”.


A court ruling on 6 June ordered the City of Windhoek to restore the water supply of a Klein Windhoek elderly resident, Annalize Calabrese, after her water was cut off.

Calabrese’s water was cut off due to her account being in arrears of more than N$1 million.

“Although the arrears were disputed, partial payment was made towards the arrears. Since then, I have received another City of Windhoek account stating that the arrears from March 2024 to April 2024 increased with more than N$1 million. Upon further inquiries on this exorbitant amount, the only response from the respondent (City of Windhoek) was that they were investigating the matter,” a court document states.

Calabrese spent a month without water.

“On further inquiry about this excessive amount, the only response was that they are investigating the issue. After many unsuccessful attempts to clarify the dispute and have my water supply restored, I called my lawyer,’ she says in court documents.

Calabrese says the City of Windhoek failed to inform her that they were cutting her water.

“I have not received any written warning, nor any court order, nor have I signed any agreement providing the respondent with the right to discontinue the water supply to my property,” she says.

Calabrese says she survived the month without water by travelling eight kilometers to her sister’s house to shower, fill bottles of water for cooking and for toilet facilities.

Akwenye said the city cannot comment on the Calabrese case.

“Internal investigations have identified discrepancies on certain accounts and receipts. The city’s ICT team, alongside an external consultant (BCX), confirmed potential irregularities within our servers. We are expanding our investigation to identify all impacted accounts and we will take corrective actions against any malpractice,” he said.

Akwenye said the City of Windhoek is committed to transparency, professionalism and confidentiality.

“The City of Windhoek would like to assure its residents “not to panic” and is requesting its residents to come forth and lodge their queries with the assurance that they will be assisted,” he said.

The Namibian reported that the City of Windhoek overcharged residents two to three times their normal monthly charges in 2019.

– This article was produced by The Namibian’s Investigative Unit. Securely send your story tips to

The post City in water billing system ‘cover-up’ appeared first on The Namibian.

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