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Residents of Winterveldt slam Eskom for electricity disconnections

Residents of Winterveld have been living for three weeks without electricity. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Residents of Winterveld have been living for three weeks without electricity. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 29, 2022

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Pretoria - Residents of Winterveldt are counting the cost of living for three weeks without electricity.

Those living in RDP houses in Slovo had their electricity disconnected due to the high rate of illegal connections. They now have to fork out R6 050 to Eskom to have their power reconnected.

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Yesterday they said they received forms to sign to make payment arrangements from an Eskom official who told them that they needed to pay an upfront R500 payment.

They were told that at least 60% of the homeowners must sign the form and pay the R500 before Eskom could reconnect them.

What increased their frustration was that an overwhelming majority of the community said they did not have the R500, and so would not be able to afford to pay.

They said most of the people in the community did not work and they wished they received their electricity from the City of Tshwane so they could, at least, be placed on the indigent list.

Alfred Sekati, 50, said: “We really do not know what to do because we do not have this R500. We cannot afford to pay the money that Eskom wants. We are dying in this cold because we are old and sick. Our children are suffering now. Who can we turn to in times like these?”

Father of four, 57-year-old Ernest Sono said: “We are poor people, and it appears this government does not care about us anymore. We tried to reason with the Eskom official but you can see his instruction was that he must just get us to sign, and if we do not sign or pay we will continue to be in this darkness.

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“We feel abandoned. We do not know what to do.”

Celia Modise said it was not like the people were refusing to pay, but simply that they just did not have the money.

“Some people feel like maybe Eskom should not apply the umbrella punishment and place those who can and are willing to pay in the dark simply because 60% of the community is unable or unwilling to pay. People have rights.

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“Rather disconnect those who cannot pay and come to reconnect them when they can afford to pay. People have rights so do not treat them like a collective all the time because in doing so you will punish some people unfairly,” she said.

In response to questions from the Pretoria News, Eskom said its network in its current form was configured in such a manner that it was not possible to isolate non-paying customers in favour of the paying customers.

“It is generally impossible to leave the power on for individual customers when the electricity is switched off at a feeder.

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“We are looking for viable technical solutions that will ensure that buying customers are not impacted by activities of defaulting customers.

“When such damages occur, all customers are left without electricity for many weeks on end while spares and equipment have to be sought to replace the destroyed infrastructure as is the case in Ivory Park Ext and Slovoville,” it said.

Eskom said it was recording an exponentially high number of failed mini-substations and transformers due to network overloading as a result of purchasing electricity tokens from ghost vendors and non-payment of electricity, illegal connections, meter bypasses and tampering, unauthorised operations on the electricity network, as well as the vandalism and theft of electrical equipment.

“Eskom has engaged all the affected customers on the process and on the deferred payment arrangement where they (customers) are encouraged to enter into a six-month payment arrangement to settle the reconnection charge of R6 052.

“The process to restore the electricity supply only begins when a threshold of 60% of customers issued with the reconnection notices have paid the initial R500.”

Eskom said it constantly engaged customers by educating them and raising awareness on the importance of paying for the electricity they used and buying electricity from legal vendors because if they engage in illegal electricity-related activities these have a negative impact on the communities, Eskom and the economy at large.

“We remain committed and ready to engage further with our customers and all stakeholders to find lasting solutions that will sustain our operations, assist our economy to grow, and improve the quality of life of the community of Ivory Park and Slovoville.”

Pretoria News

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