Shocked by municipal charges for vacant stands in absence of services

I was disgusted when I queried my Knysna Municipality account last Tuesday morning only to discover that fire victims who lost their homes and all their possessions in the June fires are being charged basic charges for vacant stands while they are rebuilding, thus hiking the costs of these charges up by approximately 300%.
The municipality should be ashamed of itself. Their talking heads appear on television and social media telling about how they are assisting fire victims by not charging rates, etc. but then recovering it in an underhand way by increasing other services - none of which we had!
Initially we were told that there would be no municipal costs for properties that were lost. And now this!
Please make your readers aware of this shocking case of an uncaring municipality that employs sneaky methods and is not transparent about its intentions or actions.
Anne McLellan, Knysna

Knysna Municipality provided the following response:
In order to provide relief to the fire victims, the municipality approved a number of relief interventions, such as the waiver of building plan fees and connection fees. But perhaps the most significant intervention is a property rates holiday for a period of 12 months.
This property rates rebate alone amounts to R16.5-million, which will not be recovered from Provincial or National government. Council’s approved tariffs in terms of vacant stands come into effect on these stands where owners have decided not to build.
We strongly disagree with the writer’s assertion that we are an uncaring municipality.