Oletha Hagile and Yandisa Hagile from Mfuleni studying using a candle after Eskom stage 3 load shedding. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
It’s a laugh a minute. 

Days after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his State of the Nation Address that Eskom would be unbundled, the power utility fell apart.

It’s only fair that sabotage is suspected. People smell a rat.

Eskom has to be the only company in the world that, when it’s in trouble, asks its consumers to use less of its product.

It’s sad that rolling blackouts have become such a norm that we’re already used to working around the two-and-a-half hour to three-hour power outages.

We make sure our food is cooked outside of the load shedding times.

We try to make sure our batteries are charged, and that we have enough data for when the wi-fi router is down.

We have an emergency battery or solar-powered lights on standby.

But what about the other consequences?

Traffic, which is already a nightmare on the best of days in Cape Town, becomes absolutely gridlocked when traffic lights fail.

Metrorail is a massive consumer of electricity to drive its trains. Its service is also affected by the power failures.

While trains experience power cuts only as a last resort, according to Metrorail, other essential commuter services are badly affected.

Tickets have to be sold using hand-held portable devices; stations are cast into darkness, posing a security risk; and worst of all, manual authorisation is needed for trains to proceed, contributing to long delays.

My freezer malfunctioned due to a power failure. After the big defrost, I lost hundreds of rands worth of frozen groceries that could not be refrozen. So, Eskom is costing me money even when I don’t use its electricity.

Some people have lost appliances worth thousands due to the surge that sometimes accompanies the power being turned back on.

It’s not enough for MPs, politicians and government leaders to hint at sabotage.

Heads must roll.

* Lance Witten is the live editor for the Cape Argus.

** To comment on this story, write to [email protected] Responses must include full names, addresses, and contact details (not for publication).

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