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Johannesburg - Pensioner Miriam Mayisela has eight people who depend on her.
With her monthly R1 200 state pension, she buys groceries for her children and grandchildren, and pays a monthly amount for a funeral policy.
Like other pensioners in Soweto, Mayisela is concerned that she won’t be able to afford water and electricity prepaid meters.
She claims the prepaid system is too expensive for a person like her, and yesterday she joined hundreds of fellow pensioners in Pimville in a protest against the installation of both water and electricity prepaid meters.
“Pensioners in Soweto are suffering. Prepaid water is difficult to maintain, especially for people like us.
“The amount of water won’t be enough for cooking, bathing and to flush the toilet,” she said.
The woman from Diepkloof said she joined the march because she was supporting other pensioners who were facing the same problems that she was.
The march was organised and supported by the Pan Africanist Congress, Operation Khanyisa Movement and the Soweto Electricity Committee.
The protest, which was peaceful, began outside Musi High School in Pimville and saw pensioners walk to the ward councillor’s office to deliver a memorandum.
However, when they got there, they found that the gates were closed.
Inside the property, with dozens of people, were councillors Elizabeth Mabasa and Vusi Shongwe.
Mabasa accepted the memorandum but refused to sign it.
Some of the demands in the memorandum include:
- Free basic services for all.
- Adequate free clean water and electricity for all.
- Immediate and complete stoppage of the installation of prepaid meters - both water and electricity - in all areas.
“I am receiving the memorandum and taking it to Johannesburg Water on behalf of residents of Pimville.
“I’m not going to sign as I’m not going to deliver what is demanded from the memorandum,” said Mabasa, who was given seven days to respond.
There were sounds of ululation from Mabasa’s office after he addressed the protesters. As the marchers left, a group of his supporters, some wearing ANC T-shirts, danced outside the gate.
Simphiwe Zwane, representing the Operation Khanyisa Movement, said the residents were furious and opposed the installations.
“Most pensioners are breadwinners in their homes, with most people not working. People won’t survive,” she said.
Joburg Water spokeswoman Millicent Kabwe said they were currently consulting residents.
“We haven’t started any installations. We are in Pimville conducting door-to-door campaigns and educating residents about the usage of prepaid meters.
Once residents understand and everyone is satisfied, then the project can start,” Kabwe said.
Meanwhile, Eskom spokeswoman Lerato Nkosi said in an e-mail reply: “Eskom is not installing any prepaid meters in Pimville.”