Power cuts in Soweto a burning issue

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Residents of Mofolo North in Soweto protested against power outages by blocking Mmila Drive with rocks and burning tyres. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg - Ongoing power cuts in Soweto have driven residents of Mofolo North in Soweto to hurl stones at motorists and blockade streets with burning tyres on Tuesday.

With the protests entering a second day, residents said they have been subjected to daily power cuts for close to a year, with their electricity going off just before 7pm each night and returning only at 10am the next day.

They said the daily power cuts were endangering their health and crippling their businesses.

 

Bafana Maseko, a tavern owner in Mofolo North, said this was not load shedding as the houses just across the road always had power when theirs was out.

“It’s so hurtful to look over and see their electricity, that is why we’re so upset,” Maseko said.

Maseko and others said they believed power interruptions were due to the fact that Eskom had not replaced a temporary transformer, which they installed last winter, with a permanent one.

“The transformer they’ve allocated doesn’t have the capacity for the area,” one man said.

A large proportion of the protesters were women who said they were worried about their families.

“We’ve got grannies here, others (have) asthma and children (have) asthma,” said a resident, Phumzile Mnisi.

The situation was calm by 9am as residents said they had been informed that an Eskom representative was going to address them.

JMPD spokesman Wayne Minnaar warned that it wasn’t safe for motorists to drive in the area.

Police spokesman Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said there had been no reason to make any arrests as of 11am.

“They (the protesters) are waiting for the councillor and government officials to address them. We hope they will come,” he said.

Eskom, however, blames illegal connections for overloading the system. A statement issued by the power utility this morning says the mini substation that supplies the area is often overloaded due to illegal connections.

 

“In the event of power outages, Eskom’s key focus is to improve the restoration time of supply… Eskom has embarked on projects for moving networks in townships to allow for easy access.

“We have embarked nationally on an intensive programme to counter illegal connections and to prevent meter tampering. We appeal to residents to report all electricity theft or tampering to Crime Line: 32211,” Eskom said.

City Power earlier this week announced that there would be no load shedding in Joburg if residents and businesses continued saving power as they had during the past months.

The numerous outages being experienced by residents in suburbs around the city were the result of cable theft or overloading, not load shedding, said City Power spokesman Louis Pieterse.

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