Reitumetse Makwea
Digital Intern
3 minute read
8 Dec 2021
6:43 am

Diepkloof electricity saga: ‘Eskom lied to us’ – Residents fear for their safety

Reitumetse Makwea

Diepkloof residents say the electricity issue has a huge impact on the community as it gives an advantage to thieves – with a massive increase in cable theft, hijackings, kidnappings and house break-ins.

Residents of Diepkloof Zone 3 in Soweto barricaded the Soweto Highway near the N1, 7 December 2021, with large rocks after power cuts in the area. Picture: Sibanda

Residents in Diepkloof, Soweto said yesterday Eskom lied to them, as they had failed to implement their crisis solution plan which included installing metered electricity boxes for all residents.

Eskom also failed to come up with an affordable flat rate to help reduce the supposed debt.

Diepkloof electricity situation

Diepkloof’s ‘debt’

More than 700 Diepkloof residents have been sitting with new prepaid electricity metered boxes for the past six years which had not yet been installed in some homes.

However, Eskom asked residents to fork out more than R6,000 for electricity debt.

According to resident and salon owner Lindiwe Tsotetsi, while Eskom wanted them to pay 40% of their debt as a collective, they failed to understand where the debt came from as the power utility previously removed the meter reading boxes which monitored their usage and determined their bill.

Meter box saga

“We are asking Eskom to come and install either the prepaid meters or take us back to those meter readers because it’s their fault that we are where we are today,” she said.

“It’s already festive season and salons are usually the busiest places this time of the year, but things have been dry for a long time, I haven’t even paid rent for the salon and I support four of my kids with the very same salon that isn’t making money now.”

However, Soweto’s electricity crisis committee member Trevor Ngwane said they were tired of the meter box saga, and during their community meeting suggested that the government must invest in renewable energy for the community as it was cheaper and more effective.

“We want a green Eskom whereby the government and big business subsidise the installation of solar panels in every house,” he added.

Eskom is ‘endangering our lives’

Another resident, Zoliswa Sono, said the electricity issue has had a huge impact on the community as it had also given the advantage to thieves – with a massive increase in cable theft, hijackings, kidnappings and house break-ins.

“They can easily hustle through us by robbing us, our lives are in danger because they can easily break into someone’s property with firearms and nothing seems to be done about that,” Sono said.

“I fail to understand that when the Eskom service providers install the cables back, it seems like they are putting the cable nearest to where these thugs can reach, and it’s an ongoing problem.”

Root out theft and vandalism

Meanwhile, the new City of Joburg mayor, Mpho Phalatse, was playing hardball and said not paying for electricity was theft, in a meeting with Eskom Gauteng management yesterday to discuss, among other issues, the Diepkloof electricity situation.

“We want to ensure the basic needs of the City of Joburg residents; electricity being one of them,” Phalatse said.

“However, we need communities to partner with us as we work on strategies, to ensure that we provide reliable electricity and root out the theft and vandalism on the increase in Johannesburg.”

Diepkloof protests

This came after Diepkloof residents took to the streets in anger on Monday, following three months of living without electricity.

Many residents were outraged with Phalatse’s comments and said she revealed which side she was on, and it was clearly not the side of the residents because she “came from a place of privilege”.

Protesters in Diepkloof obstructed lanes on the N1 with rocks and burning tyres on Monday, in response to Eskom’s decision to disconnect Zone 3.

NOW READ: Diepkloof protest: N1 reopened after residents lash out at Eskom