Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has condemned the intimidation of its officials sent out to assist communities experiencing power outages in Mamelodi.
City spokesperson Selby Bokaba said its delivery of this service was adversely affected in parts of Mamelodi East after energy and electricity officials were held hostage by irate community members.
Bokaba said the community members were angry after a trip fault at the 132-kilovolt Mamelodi-2 substation due to an overloading of the grid following load shedding.
He said the City’s system operators were on site attending to the service interruption when some community members, serviced by the Mamelodi Hinterland substation, held the team hostage and forced them to switch off electricity at the neighbouring suburbs – Nellmapius Extension 22 and 24.
“The petrified officials had no choice but to comply for safety reasons. Officials from the Tshwane Metro Police Department were summoned to assist, but were chased away by some in the community.
“A decision was taken to hastily withdraw all the teams from sites in Mamelodi for safety reasons and to prevent the community from forcing them to perform further illegal operations.
“The situation remains tense and the traumatised officials are reluctant to go out and attend to service interruptions in Extension 6 and 10, specifically, out of fear of being kidnapped or harmed,” Bokaba said.
He said the energy and electricity teams managed to resume their duties yesterday after a meeting with the ward councillors, who undertook to engage with their respective constituencies to desist from interfering with operational teams and to stop intimidating Tshwane employees.
Bokaba said City workers were increasingly being targeted in areas like Nellmapius and in parts of Soshanguve and Mamelodi.
In March, an electrician was held hostage and assaulted while fixing a five-day power outage in Soshanguve caused by cable theft. At the time of that incident, the official was the 11th electrician to be attacked in Soshanguve since January, Bokaba said.
Earlier this month, music mogul Chicco Twala was arrested and released on R2 000 bail by the Randburg Magistrate’s Court after he allegedly assaulted a City Power employee who was attempting to fix a fault outside his home. Twala allegedly aimed a cocked gun at the head of the employee, in action that was widely condemned.