Mabopane homes still lan­guish in dark

Light­ning strike on trans­former in Novem­ber left 176 house­holds with­out power …and the wait con­tin­ues

Pretoria News - - METRO - LIAM NGOB­ENI liam.ngob­[email protected]

POWER has yet to be re­stored to 176 house­holds in Mabopane Block U Ex­ten­sion since it went off in Novem­ber.

One of the af­fected res­i­dents El­iz­a­beth Maponya said their woes be­gan when a trans­former was struck by light­ning.

“In De­cem­ber we had a protest, held sev­eral meet­ings in which we dis­cussed how we could get Eskom to re­place the trans­former.

“We com­plained to the coun­cil­lor about the sit­u­a­tion and Eskom re­fused to restore power, cit­ing ram­pant il­le­gal con­nec­tions.”

She said even­tu­ally they showed up to do the au­dit into which houses had il­le­gal con­nec­tions last month and con­fis­cated me­ter boxes where there were il­le­gal con­nec­tions but had not au­dited all the 176 houses.

“Christ­mas came and passed with­out them com­ing. It was an aw­ful fes­tive sea­son.”

“We threw away a lot of food; meat was filled with worms and flies. Fridges have been stink­ing. We are ba­si­cally work­ing from hand to mouth.”

She said she had spent so much money on take­aways: “I didn’t even see where my bonus went. I am al­ways us­ing pub­lic trans­port which is money as well. Through frus­tra­tion and des­per­a­tion, we have con­sid­ered even pay­ing R120 as res­i­dents ev­ery month so we can at least pay 50% and have our power back. But why must we bleed when we have been pay­ing and not part of the de­fault­ing group?”

Most res­i­dents have re­sorted to us­ing cooler boxes to keep cer­tain prod­ucts cool and paraf­fin stoves to cook.

In a bid to cross over with power re­stored, they protested again on the 29th (of De­cem­ber): “… but we were not even given at­ten­tion or a chance to voice our griev­ances.”

Coun­cil­lor in the area, Tshepo Mo­taung, said fol­low­ing en­gage­ments with Eskom the util­ity in­formed him that fines of R6 500 had been im­posed on 105 il­le­gally con­nected house­holds and they would not restore the power un­til 50% of the fines had been paid.

“The bulk of peo­ple here are un­em­ployed. Where will they get that money from? And in the mean­time others are suf­fer­ing while they are not owing and not il­le­gally con­nected.”

In the first week of this month, Eskom in­formed the coun­cil­lor that the trans­former would not be de­liv­ered un­til the au­dit was done and they could not pri­ori­tise Mabopane as they had many ar­eas to cover.

Mo­taung said he was sad­dened by the cri­sis as he un­der­stood the frus­tra­tion from res­i­dents who were not in the wrong, but stay in per­pet­ual dark­ness.

He said he had been in con­tact with Eskom which in­sisted it would not budge un­til 50% of the fines had been paid.

“I un­der­stand that il­le­gal con­nec­tions are bad, but why bunch legally con­nected houses with the il­le­gal ones. It is not fair and our re­quest just fell on deaf ears.”

He said he had had sev­eral fol­low-up meet­ings but, to date, there was still no trans­former de­liv­ered.

“For now I am await­ing ad­vice if we can take Eskom to court on the mat­ter as res­i­dents need this ba­sic (ser­vice),” said Mo­taung.

Maponya said she had just reg­is­tered for a course with Unisa and had to set­tle for burn­ing the mid­night oil by us­ing can­dles to study, which has been a strain. “I am con­stantly late, I have to ask others to iron our clothes, charge phones and pay them while I am not il­le­gally con­nected. This has been a hor­ri­ble three months we have been treated un­fairly.”

Eskom, mean­while, said it would only ser­vice the area once cus­tomers had paid the fines that were is­sued for tam­per­ing with the net­work.

It fur­ther said il­le­gal con­nec­tions were rife in the area and as such over­bur­dened the net­work sys­tem. This has led to con­tin­u­ous trip­ping and, at times, ex­plo­sions at trans­form­ers and mini sub-sta­tions.

“Fur­ther­more, le­gal cus­tomers are in many in­stances found to have tam­pered with their me­ters or bought from unau­tho­rised ghost ven­dors, mak­ing them non-buy­ers.”

The en­tity said due to the con­fig­u­ra­tion of its net­work, it was a chal­lenge to sin­gle out le­gal buy­ing cus­tomers in good stand­ing and sus­tain their sup­ply, since even non-buy­ers would con­nect them­selves il­le­gally from the point that pay­ing cus­tomers are sup­plied from.

While many res­i­dents have lost gro­ceries as fridges be­came a breed­ing ground for worms and flies, Eskom said res­i­dents who could demon­strate cul­pa­bil­ity on the part of Eskom were per­mit­ted to lodge claims.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.