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Pietermaritzburg - Residents are calling on the Msunduzi Municipality to find a permanent solution to the theft of electricity that has left suburbs without power for weeks on end.
Frustrated residents say the city is being held hostage by the high levels of electricity theft.
Copesville and Northdale residents told the Daily News that they experienced power outages at least twice a week, if not more often.
“We are entitled to uninterrupted basic service delivery,” said Sathiya Chetty, who has lived in Copesville for 17 years.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to live like this, not knowing what day you’re going to come home to no power.”
According to the auditor-general’s report for 2011/12, illegal electricity connections by informal settlement residents cost the municipality more than R90 million a year.
This led the city council last year to approve plans to electrify all informal settlements around the city, with a budget of R22.3 million set aside for the project.
The roll-out was launched this year in the Ezinketheni informal settlement in Copesville, but electricity theft continues unabated.
A source at the municipality said cable theft and illegal connections had huge financial ramifications.
“Constantly having to replace electricity infrastructure is eroding our operating budget.”
The municipality was fighting a losing battle, said the source, because no sooner did technicians disconnect the illegal connections than they were reconnected by thieves.
Rashika Maharaj, who runs a catering service from her home in Northdale, said her business had been affected by the constant electricity disruptions.
“I cannot keep anything fresh in the fridge,” Maharaj said.
“I cannot even cook.
“My business is rendered useless without electricity and as a result I cannot support my family.”