A group of angry residents of several affected areas in Graaff-Reinet gathered in front of the local municipality on Friday afternoon, after they discovered that they were unable to purchase electricity due to non-payment of municipal services. The electricity has since been restored to these areas.
According to Sias Smith of the GraaffReinet Action Committee, residents of the Geluksdal, Kroonvale, Riemvasmaak, Mandela Park, Asherville, Koebergville and Santaville were some of the areas that were cut-off from the supply of electricity on Thursday without prior notice.
The Electricity Basic Service Support Tariff (Free Basic Electricity) Policy of 2003, states people who meet specific criteria qualify for the allocation of free basic electricity, which is limited to a maximum of 50kWh per household, per month. Anything above this limit will be charged to the customer.
Smith stated that a portion of the money paid for prepaid electricity goes towards a service that they do not receive regularly from the municipality. Furthermore, service delivery in these areas has been problematic for some time.
Smith added that these services include the removal of refuse, which happens sporadically, and residents are being billed for water when there is no supply of water to these residential areas.
Ward Councillor Joy Williams said that the reason for the disconnection was a resolution taken by the municipal council.
The electricity to these effected areas was reconnected unconditionally by late Friday afternoon, Smith said.
Angry residents gather outside the Graaff-Reinet municipal offices, after being blocked from purchasing electricity, without prior notice from the municipality.