Cape Town - Eskom has withdrawn services in Harare, Khayelitsha, with immediate effect after workers were asked to pay a protection fee of R20 000 by alleged gangsters.
The Weekend Argus understands that the workers were working to restore electricity in Jingi Street on Sunday when they were approached by the armed men.
According to residents, the area has not had electricity since Friday afternoon.
“Some gangsters are insisting that Eskom operators vacate or pay protection fee of R20 000 per month in order for Eskom to work in the area,” explained Eskom in a statement. “This extortion fee was also demanded from our contractors working in Harare.”
Khayelitsha is a playground for extortion where businesses are targeted by criminals for extortion fee. Businesses are asked to pay monies ranging from R300 so that their businesses are protected from robberies.
Sometimes, when businesses refuse they are attacked and some people killed.
The power utility said there were criminals tripping Eskom infrastructure and in return ask the community to pay R30 to reconnect them.
“Furthermore, it has come to Eskom’s attention that there’s a syndicate illegally connecting people at an amount of R1500 per household. These activities are severely straining the Eskom network, especially during peak times when transformers are overloaded.”
Eskom has introduced load reduction which is an initiative aimed at protecting Eskom’s assets by reducing load during peak hours in high-density residential areas, which are overloading the network.
Eskom’s acting general manager Mbulelo Yedwa said they were engaging community leaders and business forums to find solutions to resolve the matter.
“The safety of our employees cannot be compromised and therefore Eskom has withdrawn services from Harare, Khayelitsha, until community leaders and the South African Police Services can guarantee that it is safe to return.”
On Saturday, a City of Cape Town (official) from the Informal Settlements Basic Services branch was shot twice while en route to respond to a burst pipe in the Klipfontein Mission Station community.
The official was a victim of an attempted robbery.