Eskom said it has stopped maintenance and repair work in troubled areas where angry residents attacked and threatened staff.
As a result, electricity supply has been cut in certain parts of Gauteng including Diepkloof, Ga-Rankuwa, Mnandi, Robinson and Zola Customer Network Centres(CNCs).
“We are also not restoring power if audits reveal that certain households defaulted on payments”, the power utility said.
Eskom withdraws service
The power utility’s Ronel Kotze said community members are outraged that illegal connections are dismantled daily.
Eskom’s strict stance on curbing illegal connections has created a highly contentious work environment for its technical teams.
“Several of our employees are often held hostage at transformer sites. The residents refuse to let them leave until they restore the power,” said Kotze.
The teams on the ground don’t have the authority or capability to restore power from the field.
Eskom technicians reluctant to work
Attacking Eskom’s field teams have now become somewhat of a norm. They are sometimes accompanied by private security, but that hasn’t helped the situation.
“We send them for medical treatment and trauma counselling. But now, understandably, they are reluctant to work in those areas,” said Kotze.
“This week alone, protestors barricaded roads, burned tyres, threw stones at Eskom employees and prevented them from accessing the power utility’s offices,” said Gauteng’s Senior Manager for maintenance and operations Mashangu Xivambu.
Xivambu condemned the attacking of staff.
“Intimidating our employees and contractors, holding them hostage and the overall threat to their lives is deplorable,” said Xivambu.
“We will continue to withdraw our employees from such life-threatening environments until we deem it safe for them to resume with our operations in those areas.”
Strain on the grid
Xivambu warned against illegal connections, saying it’s overburdening an already strained system.
“We have a responsibility to safeguard our assets to ensure that they run efficiently and in line with their designed capacity.”