Residents of Section 29 in the community of Delft have been left frustrated after enduring three years without electricity. Picture: Thandile Konco
Residents of Section 29 in the community of Delft have been left frustrated after enduring three years without electricity. Picture: Thandile Konco

Electricity woes leave Delft residents in the dark again

By Thandile Konco Time of article published May 15, 2021

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Cape Town - Residents of Section 29 in Delft have been plunged into the dark ages.

For the past three years they have been living without electricity.

Bongile Damba, who is a resident, said the problem began after the development of an informal settlement close to the area. She alleged that the residents of the informal settlement would steal electricity from their electrical poles and transformers, which led to them being inactive.

Damba said that living without electricity for three years has been an unbearable burden.

“I have to wash my children with cold water, because the cost of gas is expensive and it merely lasts two weeks. Because there are no working street lights, the streets get very dark very early and this has resulted in an increase in rapes and crimes in our area.”

Damba said that despite having written to the City of Cape Town and Eskom, their pleas for assistance have not been heard.

Sihle Qambela, a matric student, said that studying by candlelight without electricity has negatively impacted her academic productivity at home, especially in a period where most children are spending a lot of time working from home.

“As a student, I am pleading for intervention. Sometimes we do not even have money to constantly be buying candles to study. This issue is affecting my education, which is the only path I have to get out of poverty.

“We are asking for empathy and assistance. A lot of our parents are unemployed because of the pandemic and we are asking to be heard. We know that we do not have money,authority or privilege because we are black, but as a young black child I am asking to be heard.”

Elderly resident Nokhanyo Hoboshe, 61, said that the use of candles, paraffin and gas were not the safest method, and that her daughter's bed was set alight by a candle while she was studying. She added that daughter is forced to continue studying by candlelight, without access to the benefit of electricity and online learning.

Bukelwa Wanyaza said that their attempts to resolve the issue as a community were in vain. She said they went to Eskom and met with a branch manager who was unable to assist them. They also had a meeting with the City of Cape Town, to no avail.

Wanyaza said that her child is experiencing chest problems due to an over-exposure to paraffin fumes. She said the problem is ongoing, as paraffin heaters are the only alternative option the family has for warmth, boiling and cooking.

Eskom’s stakeholder management and industry support department said in a statement that they are aware that some Eskom customers in the area of Delft are experiencing an intermittent loss of electricity supply due to illegal connections from the neighbouring Tsunami informal settlement.

In partnership with the Western Cape provincial government and their appointed developers, Eskom is to finalise electrification of a TRA (Temporary Relocation Area) in order to relocate some Tsunami occupants, the statement said. Eskom can only electrify Tsunami once the plans are finalised by the Western Cape provincial government and the area has been proclaimed.

Eskom expressed concern regarding the safety risk posed by illegal electricity connections, saying that it can cause injury to citizens, especially young children who often run barefoot in the roads.

“There are areas in Delft where Eskom is battling to prevent illegal connections and vandalism that severely affects the electricity network, often causing outage among customers.”

Eskom said that their technical staff regularly conduct network audits and remove illegal connections in order restore electricity supply to paying customers. However, when operators leave the area, the illegal connections are quickly replaced. They are calling on community members to assist by reporting illegal connections electricity theft, tampering, cable theft and vandalism of infrastructure.

Report incidents by contacting the Eskom Toll-Free Crime Hotline 0800 11 27 22.

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