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South Africa cuts power to Nigeria consulate over unpaid bills


The South African city authorities have disconnected the Nigerian consulate’s electricity supplies in Johannesburg over unpaid bills.

According to a city official, City officials on Wednesday went to the consulate, in an upmarket northern suburb, to cut off supplies over 400,000 rand ($23,300) in outstanding charges.

The consulate denied the officials access, describing them in a statement as “an invasion squad”. Supplies were remotely switched off.

AFP reported on Friday that South Africa’s foreign ministry spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said that the Nigerian consulate has “dispatched a diplomatic note to us”.

“The matter is being handled through diplomatic channels. We’ll engage all parties involved in order to find an amicable solution,” he said.

In a statement, the consulate blasted the city’s action as “in complete violation of… international treaties and conventions, especially the Vienna Convention on consular relations, which guarantees the inviolability of consular premises”.

Electricity supplies were reconnected the same day following promises the account would be settled by the end of the month.

“We disconnected them on Wednesday during our revenue collection blitz,” city power spokesman Isaac Mangena told AFP.

The consul-general visited the city offices after the disconnection and “acknowledged the debt”, and negotiated to settle the arrears by the end of the month, said Mangena.

“They made an arrangement to (settle) the account by end of January,” he said.

“We are not treating them as a special customer, but like any other,” he said.

Residents and businesses owe the city, the country’s financial and commercial hub, more than four billion rand in outstanding bills.

South Africa is in the grip of crippling power shortages forcing the power company Eskom to ration supplies.

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