Power cuts put lives at risk, says Sama

Electricity pylons in Power Park, Soweto. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ African News Agency (ANA)

Electricity pylons in Power Park, Soweto. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 30, 2023


Johannesburg - The South African Medical Association (Sama) has slammed the government for failing to keep its promise to exempt hospitals from rolling blackouts.

Sama chairperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa said load shedding continued to put lives at risk.

Earlier this month, the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, ordered the government to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply to all government hospitals, clinics, schools and police stations.

This followed an application brought by the UDM and other political and civic organisations, which argued that the government and Eskom violated basic human rights by implementing load shedding that has knocked out critical areas of the economy, such as hospitals.

President Cyril Ramaphosa warned in March that the grid would collapse if the government fully implemented the court’s decision that schools, hospitals and police stations be exempted from load shedding.

The government is appealing against the ruling.

Ramaphosa said the appeal was not based on arrogance, but on the advice of engineers.

Mzukwa said: “We are very disappointed that they are still talking about the exemption of hospitals when this was actually announced some time last year. A media briefing was held, and it was announced that hospitals would be exempted from power cuts. All they do is go to the media, make promises, and disappear. That is all we see – no implementation on anything.”

Last year, the Health Department said it, together with Eskom, had implemented the long-awaited exemption of North West hospitals, which include Taung Hospital and Ganyesa Hospital.

Then, health spokesperson Foster Mohale said technical challenges meant it would take time to exempt some health facilities from shedding.

Meanwhile, Eskom continued rolling out blackouts at stage 6 until today.

Eskom said this pattern would be repeated daily until further notice.

“Breakdowns are currently at 18 144MW of generating capacity, while the generating capacity out of service for planned maintenance is 3 427MW,” said Eskom.

It said a generating unit each at Arnot, Camden, Kendal and Palmiet power stations was returned to service on Sunday, but a generation unit each at Matla and Tutuka power stations was taken out of service because of breakdowns, and there were delays in returning to service units at Arnot, Hendrina, Kendal, Kriel, Lethabo, Matimba, Tutuka and Camden.

The Star