Mabopane residents angry at Eskom for no repairs to transformer struck by lightning
Pretoria - Residents in Mabopane Block B are at their wits' end after they tried without success to get Eskom to repair a transformer, which was struck by lightning a week ago.
At least 61 households were plunged into darkness after the lightning hit the transformer supplying them with power.
Many were forced to throw away their refrigerated food such as meat, which was spoiled owing to the power outage.
Yesterday, residents pointed fingers at Eskom for their loss of groceries purchased to last them for a month.
Speaking on their behalf Mohau Kekana accused the power utility of giving residents unfair treatment by failing to attend to the problem despite that it was reported on numerous occasions.
He told the Pretoria News that many residents had notified Eskom about the faulty transformer, but that all complaints fell on deaf ears.
"Eskom says that before it can attend to our problem they will have to investigate it first, even though the problem emanated from a lightning strike," Kekana said.
Eskom's apparent assertion was based on the assumption that the transformer might have exploded as a result of overloading on its power grid caused by illegal connections.
But, Kekana said the majority of people living in the area were grown-ups, who would be scared to connect electricity illegally.
"It is a quiet area of grown-ups. Most people buy electricity regularly and Eskom just disrespect us and they are treating us like criminals already before it is even investigated," he said.
In a bid to address the plight of the community, Kekana lodged complaints with the public protector, human rights commission, the presidency and the Economic Freedom Fighters, seeking for their intervention.
He was still waiting for responses from the organisations.
"We lost groceries of about R1 000 in my household. We buy meat at Woolworths and we buy it in bulk. Some of it was wasted and some I had to braai quickly the other day. All our food has been wasted and we are not getting any joy from Eskom," he said.
He said even the elderly people, who have pension grants as their only means of income, had to throw away their food.
"Eskom said that the only time when they could audit our households is when one of the affected parties of the 61 households could go around and take the meter numbers of all households and ID numbers of the owners and send them to Eskom," he said.
Kekana bemoaned the fact that the power utility appeared to have judged them as if they were criminals before it could fix the problem caused by the lightning strike.
"The grown-ups buy the electricity. They don't connect illegally; they are scared to do things like that," he said.
The Pretoria News reached out to Eskom, which promised to shed light on the situation in the next couple of days.
* Eskom later said it was aware of the damaged transformer as a result of lightning, adding that it may take up to three months to repair it.
"To address failed electricity equipment such as transformers, Eskom conducts network audits before any network equipment can be replaced or repaired in order to determine the extent of the damage on the network," it said.
According to the power utility, the audit process would include the inspection of meter boxes, the removal of illegal connections, meter bypasses and the issuing of remedial fines to customers found to have tampered with the infrastructure.
"Full payments of R6 052,60 are to be made by customers issued with remedial fines or deferred payment arrangement forms should be submitted to Eskom before any work to replace the network equipment can start. This is a remedial fine and not a transformer replacement fee," it said.
Eskom in Gauteng said it has recorded a significant number of pole-mounted transformers and mini substations which failed or exploded due to network overloading.
"Therefore, repair or replacement work depends on the extent of the damage and on the availability of material and resources required. This may take up to three months," it said.