Soweto electricity protest set to shut down the township and all malls
Johannesburg - The Electricity Crisis Movement in Soweto is planning to block roads on Tuesday and ensure that the township's malls are not operating as their fight with Eskom continues.
This is in response to what they call "bullying tactics" and scapegoating of Soweto and other poor areas by the power utility. They claim Eskom treats them terribly compared to people living in areas such as Sandton.
The Movement's Trevor Ngwane said they plan to start their protest action on Tuesday to coincide with the State of the Province Address (SOPA) that will be delivered by Premier David Makhura in Garankuwa, Tshwane.
There, he said, they expect their Tshwane comrades to block the roads and then go to the venue of the SOPA and picket.
Ngwane said the protest action would continue on Wednesday where their Cape Town comrades from the Unemployment Movement will picket outside Parliament where minister Tito Mboweni is expected to deliver the Budget Speech.
In Soweto and Orange Farm, he said, they are planning to block roads and interfere with shopping malls and disrupt business operations there.
Ngwane said they decided on this action because of Eskom's bullying tactics and scapegoating. He said while the power utility is battling financially, everything was blamed on the Soweto debt.
"Eskom's problems did not start with the Soweto debt although every cent and billion counts. Eskom, just like many State-Owned Enterprises, has problems with corruption and mismanagement but they're using Soweto debt as a fig leaf cover up.
"The Eskom spokesperson said they were targeting low paying areas...this is the townships and low incoming areas.
"Another thing is that if a substation explodes or needs maintenance, they don't send someone to repair it on the grounds that Soweto residents are not paying.
"It is a myopic strategy to let infrastructure go into disrepair; it's the shortsightedness and arrogance of Eskom. Soweto people are not paying because they are poor," he said.
The Star sent questions to Eskom on these allegations but they had not responded at the time of publication.
Spokesperson for the Joburg Metro Police Department's (JMPD) Wayne Minnaar said they were aware of Tuesday's planned shutdown and were ready for it.
"We have deployed a huge number of police officers to be on duty. There will be JMPD, the South Affrican Police Services, Gauteng Traffic Police and the National Traffic Police. We will deal with the situation as it unfolds," he said.