Protesters in Winterveld barricaded roads with rocks and burning tyres in an Eskom protest. Picture: Nonhlanhla Ndlovu/TUT student
Protesters in Winterveld barricaded roads with rocks and burning tyres in an Eskom protest. Picture: Nonhlanhla Ndlovu/TUT student

WATCH: Chaos in Winterveld after Eskom refuses to repair power transformers

By Rapula Moatshe Time of article published Feb 19, 2020

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Pretoria - Chaos broke out in Winterveld on Wednesday when the community took to the streets, protesting against Eskom's decision not to repair damaged power transformers in the township.

Protesters barricaded the roads with rocks and burning tyres, vowing to continue with the strike action until Eskom restores power to their households. 

They had a confrontation with the police, who fired tear gas canisters at them and injured some protesters.

Learning at schools was suspended due to disruptions in the township. 

Robert Theledi, a resident, sustained injuries on his right arm. 

Protesters in Winterveld barricaded roads with rocks and burning tyres in an Eskom protest. Video: Nonhlanhla Ndlovu/TUT student

He said three schools in the area were closed because of the protests.

"We will protest until they connect us to Eskom's power grid," he said.

Theledi said residents in Winterveld spent the festive season in the dark after Eskom disconnected power from them last year.

Some residents said they bought generators, while others fell back on using paraffin stoves.

"Three weeks back they came to conduct an audit on every household. They checked if meter boxes were connected illegally and took down meter numbers. 

"We thought they would come back with a solution, but we have been waiting for far too long," Theledi said.

On Tuesday, a community meeting was held to inform residents about the protest.

"We talked to teachers at schools to release learners so that they can join the strike," Theledi said.

Timothy Dube, a resident, said his three-year-boy fell ill after he inhaled tear gas fired by the police into his house.

He said the police used tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd, and one canister came through the window of his tuck shop.

He wanted to take his son to a clinic, but could not do so because protesters had blocked the roads, preventing public transport like taxis from operating smoothly.

"We gave my boy milk and wiped his eyes with a wet cloth to lessen the effects of the tear gas," he said.

Resident Joans Baloyi said: "Eskom doesn't care about the community of Winterveld. They are only interested in squandering the subsidy they receive from government."

He demanded that  Eskom must reopen applications for electricity to allow all the households in the township to submit new applications.

"Alternatively, they can allow us to be provided electricity by the City of Tshwane because we are the residents of this municipality. 

"We better purchase electricity directly from the City of Tshwane. They will then have to deal with the municipality," he said.

Baloyi said lack of power negatively affected small businesses which relied on the use of power for operations.

"They told us that they can't repair transformers that exploded in the past and that they don't have a plan on how to restore electricity," he said.

In July last year, residents protested against Eskom's decision to suspend its services for repairing damaged transformers.

Most transformers exploded apparently as a result of overloading from illegal connections.

Local councillor Malebo Rasegoete said residents have been without power for eleven months.

She said there was no way forward and that Eskom had threatened to disconnect electricity to more households. 

Residents warned that the situation was likely to get out of control if Eskom won't reverse its decision.

Last year Eskom said it would no longer replace substations and transformers "in areas where people are not paying for their electricity".

Winterveld and Soweto were part of the areas which had to bear the brunt of its unpopular decision.

Pretoria News

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