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A WARD councillor in Orange Farm had to run for her life from a multipurpose centre where protesters were gathered to register their opposition to prepaid electricity meters.
Residents in wards 3 and 5 sang and danced as they waited patiently for their ward councillor, Lindelwa June Nose, and officials from Eskom, and the departments of housing and local government, health, and arts and culture to address them. They said they had arranged the march weeks earlier. Nose never returned as she had to be ushered through the back door when angry residents stormed the place.
Zanele Mvusi, 25, was among the hundreds of dissatisfied residents. She had a stick in her hand that she kept raising to the sky to show her determination.
Mvusi was at the march to register her voice about the electricity issue in her area. She lives in Extension 7B and just outside her house are two big holes, one for water and the other for sewage. Both holes are not barricaded and she fears that her children will fall into them.
Mvusi has also inherited a legacy of an illegal electricity connection from her parents. She moved to her house in 1991, when she was just four years old. As far as she can remember she had never seen her parents pay for electricity and when her parents divorced, she inherited the house and the illegal connection.
She stays in the three-room corrugated iron shack with her children, a five-year-old son and a 14-month-old daughter. She has not had electricity for a month. “It is winter now and the house traps the winter chill,” she said.
Mvusi said she has to ask her neighbours across the road for hot water and to use their stove to cook meals.
“I have used up all their kindness and now I see they are tired of me always coming to their front door begging for help.”
The residents said they were told at a meeting that they would have to pay R2 000 per household for the installation of prepaid electricity metres, which they said they could not afford.
Mvusi is unemployed and relies on her children’s grant to survive. The little girl is enrolled at a day-care centre because during the day Mvusi looks for work. “I don’t have R2 000 to give to Eskom. If I have to do this in four instalments, it means my children will go hungry, because my children’s grant is R560.”
She said she did not mind paying for prepaid electricity, but it was the R2 000 that worried her.
To add to her woes, Mvusi has sewage problems. She cannot use her flushing toilet, because the dirty water fills the toilet pot and spills on to the floor.
So the family uses her next door neighbour’s pit toilet.
Tito Zwane, a regional sales and customer service manager at Eskom, arrived late at the multi-purpose centre to receive and sign the memorandum prepared by SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco).
The memorandum stated that the residents wanted Eskom to stop power cuts, reactivate old meter boxes so residents could continue buying units and also to activate new ones. Another issue was the closure of some of the recharge points. The residents want recharge points to be expanded to other areas and for Eskom to refund the R2 000 that other residents have paid in electricity units.
Eskom could not be reached for comment.