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‘Load shedding could kill me’: Gordon’s Bay pensioner’s desperate plea for oxygen

Oxygen tank

A pensioner from Gordon’s Bay, dependent on an oxygen machine, fears that she could die because of load shedding.

Published May 17, 2023


Cape Town - A pensioner from Gordon’s Bay, dependent on an oxygen machine, fears that she could die because of load shedding.

Julia Victor, 78, said she was in a constant state of stress over her life because of load shedding.

“You don't know if you’re going to be alive the next morning or not with load shedding.

The longest I walk without oxygen, when I go shower, I'm out of breath and need my oxygen again. If it wasn’t for my daughter and son I don't know what would have happened to me, I would most probably be dead by now.

They stay awake with me during the night. I find it unfair that old people must suffer, they might as well put us to sleep and the government (is) just lapping it up.”

Her daughter Samantha Victor added: “My mother is healthy but she is dependent on oxygen. Now with load shedding, the minute the light hits off, the oxygen concentrator hits off, then we have to move to a tank.

“Since April 1, the medical aid only provides one bottle, which is an eight hour bottle, then we have to pay for oxygen.

“What do I do because lately we are going off 11 to 12 hours? We have an inverter, but it only lasts two hours. I am going through a cylinder a day at R477, and I am unemployed. Public hospitals also load-shed, I feel like I don’t know what to do. My mom can die without oxygen.”

A distraught Victor asked who would be held accountable should her mother die.

Western Cape health department spokesperson Mark van Der Heever said only 10 hospitals in the province were exempt from rolling blackouts, with all other facilities impacted.

He advised: “If she is a client at one of our public hospitals, then she or her relatives can speak to the treating medical team to find out about ways they might be able to perhaps assist. This is the best thing to do.”

The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria last week gave Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan 60 days to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply to all government hospitals, clinics, schools and police stations following an application by the UDM, Action SA, Build One South Africa (Bosa) and other political and civic organisations.

However Gordhan has since gone back to court to appeal the judgement.

Bosa spokesperson Sbu Zondi said they had received many complaints similar to those of Victors’.

“That is precisely why we went into court. We believe it is possible to equip hospitals or clinics with alternate sources of energy like solar panels.

“This case is not just about finding the minister wanting, it is about our basic constitutional right to have access to these facilities. Many South Africans are suffering with regards to the state of health, jobs are being lost, the bulk of economic activity is being affected, the excuses provided are just not good enough. Let us go back to basics and ensure our government does what it is supposed to do,” he said.

Eskom is expected to host a media briefing on the state of its system on Wednesday.

Cape Times