Welfare Park residents in South Hills endured the cold weather conditions in the dark after six electricity poles caught fire in the area. File Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Welfare Park residents in South Hills endured the cold weather conditions in the dark after six electricity poles caught fire in the area. File Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Resident plunged in the dark for six days as electricity poles go up in flames

By Sonri Naidoo Time of article published Jul 8, 2021

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Johannesburg - Welfare Park residents in South Hill endured the cold weather conditions in the dark after six electricity poles caught fire in the area last Thursday.

Thirty homes were affected by this explosion and have been without electricity for six days. Among those affected is a Khwezi Zola Old Age Home, that houses eight elderly people above 60. The home has been operating for more than two years with four females, four males, and six nurses.

The founder of the home, Zola Majoro, said they had to find alternative ways to accommodate home residents without electricity.

“Since the electricity cable explosion, we are forced to prepare water on gas stoves to wash the residents, light candles, and use torches for light at night.

“We also buy ready-made food to avoid cooking on the gas stoves because of the expenditure. Our neighbours who have electricity have been kind enough to charge our cellphones as well as the medical devices we use such as the nebuliser for one of the male residents in the home,” she said.

Most of the residents in the home suffered from dementia, diabetes, hypertension, and spine problems.

Majoro said they had to constantly monitor their patients because those who suffered from dementia would fiddle with the gas stove while it is on.

“We are worried about our residents burning from the water which is being heated on the stove. One of our male residents often suffered from anxiety attacks and needed a nebuliser to control his breathing.

“Without electricity, we are forced to use home remedies which require him to breathe through a straw in a bottle,” she said.

Peggy Babcharach, 73, who depends on an oxygen machine to assist her with breathing, said when the electricity disconnected, she had to spend nights at her daughter’s home in Fourways because she could not normalise her breathing in the cold weather.

“I sleep with the oxygen machine and use it for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. But when the wind is blowing, I have to use it more often. It is so very uncomfortable but it is helping me a lot to breathe,” she said.

Ward councillor Faeeza Chame said communication between herself and City Power had been ongoing since the electricity disconnected. She also kept resident updated on the communication from City Power.

“City Power has assured me that they would reconnect the electricity and install new cables soon. Due to protests in the surrounding areas, the electricity could not be connected sooner,” she said.

Contract workers from City Power were later seen in the area installing temporary cables on Tuesday around midday.

The spokesperson for the power utility, Isaac Mangena said the cause of the cable fire was still being investigated, but preliminary investigations suggest the cause is due to the overloading of the circuits caused by multiple “backyard dwellings mushrooming” in the area.

The Star

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