Blackouts bad for businesses

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IOL eskom power cables Independent Newspapers File photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Cape Town - Blackouts across Cape Town caused havoc for business owners on Monday.

The blackouts, which left some businesses without electricity for up to five hours, were caused by a fault at the Athlone switching station.

According to the City, the greater Athlone area, Epping and surrounds, as well as Thornton, Langa, Belgravia, Crawford, Rondebosch East, and the Vanguard Drive area towards Newlands, Mowbray, Observatory, the outskirts of Woodstock, Paarden Eiland, and Maitland were affected by the power outage.

An employee at The Web, an internet Café in Observatory, said they were left without power for about five hours. But while not being operational for that time was damaging for business, things did not improve when power returned. He said that two of his computers were “fried” and the business’s modem was irreparably damaged.

Mark Uys, the barman at Fat Cactus in Mowbray, said that while they tried to keep their drinks as cold as possible, customers had been unable to treat themselves to the restaurant’s signature “chilli poppers” and were resigned to snacking on nachos.

Mac Mukudem, owner of Instant Dry Cleaners in Athlone, said all the shops near him had been hit by the blackouts.

“I showed the customers, look, it’s not just me, everything is off,” he said. He added that the five hours of business he lost had cost him about R3 000.

“I had all my staff here basically doing nothing the whole day,” he said.

The Athlone Magistrates Court was also hit hard. Bail applications, trials, judgments and sentences did not go ahead because the cases could not be electronically recorded. Court officials had to wait for the electricity to come back on before they could record proceedings. Others decided to postpone cases instead.

One such case was the sentencing of Johan Crous, who has been convicted of culpable homicide after he lost control of his Ford Fiesta near UCT on on August 23, 2008 and crashed into the guardrail separating the lanes of the M3. A rock or similar object was flung from the guardrail and smashed through the windscreen of Lauren Devine’s Renault Clio, striking the top of her head and killing her.

On Monday, Crous’s lawyer, Keith Gess and prosecutor CJ Turner agreed that the case should be postponed.

Magistrate Heather Paulse postponed the case to November 27.

[email protected]

* Additional reporting by Jade Otto.

Cape Argus

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