Homeowners block entrance to Eskom head office over blackouts

  • Scores of Cosmo City Extension 8 residents protested outside the gates of Eskom in Sunninghill, Johannesburg on Thursday to demand an end to three years of rolling power outages.

The residents, representing more than 300 households, say the power utility has been promising them stable electricity, but to no avail.

The group used their cars to block any movement at Eskom’s offices until Public Order Police, Metro officers, and Eskom management arrived in a large convoy to monitor the situation.

Resident Thoko Mlotshwa said: “We sometimes go a month or three without consistent power. When we do have it, it doesn’t last. Sometimes when there is wind or lightning it can be gone for two days.”

Mlotshwa, who bought her house in 2011, said the power is often cut without prior warning. “You can be cooking and the next minute the electricity is gone. In a day we are lucky to have electricity for more than four hours.” She lives with her three grandchildren who are in primary school and has to shower with cold water some mornings.

Image credit: Silver Sibiya

Eskom blames illegal connections by shack dwellers and unauthorised backroom building extensions by the homeowners.

Community leader Justice Radzuma said they were promised a direct supply point two years ago. “They promised to build our own feeder from the substation. So far that line has been built but it is stuck somewhere, saying that material has been stolen and they are busy with the insurance,” he said.

Ward Councillor Lybon Ndou blamed the blackouts on people in Zandspruit, Honeydew for illegally connecting and vandalising Eskom’s infrastructure.

“Eskom came and promised heaven and earth, but they didn’t fulfil their promises. We requested to separate Ext 8 from Zandspruit which Eskom accepted but they never did,” Ndou said.

Eskom Gauteng spokesperson Amanda Qithi confirmed that the consistent outages were the result of illegal connections from the informal settlement in Honeydew. “However, they are exacerbated by the development of backroom dwellers and rental properties in the area. Owners extending their homes or building backrooms should apply from Eskom to upgrade from the 60 Amps that they are currently on,” she said.

Qithi said a permanent solution will be to install a new feeder. “The upgrade was not specifically done just for Cosmo City. We are now moving from the other point of supply to this one because it can handle the extra load from Cosmo City,” she said.

This article was originally published by GroundUp and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. It is republished with permission. Link to the original article HERE

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