On going protests in townships against cut off electricity

Recently there have been lots of protests happening in Soweto and other areas in Gauteng about cut off of electricity. The number of protests escalated almost every week in townships. Protestors barricade streets with burning of tyres and close roads.

On the 09th of July 2019, the Soweto Action Committee (SAC) together with the residents of zone 1, Diepkloof, marched to Eskom Offices in Zone 6 Diepkloof to handover memorandum about what they said are unfairly high tariffs which the community will face. The residents are worried that they are the ones that face these rates while Diepkloof has a high rate of unemployment. The residents say they are unable to buy electricity. The group marched under the slogan “Humanity, Respect and Dignity for poor Workers, Youth & the Elderly Unite”.

SAC General Secretary, Lerato Portia Mogapi, quoted the word of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during the State of the National Address in February saying “Eskom will be broken up into three parts such as Generation, Transmission and Distribution”, which according to her will make poor communities suffer even more. She continued, saying the councillors who agreed to take decisions on the installation of pre-paid electricity meters did not bother to consult the important stakeholders which is the community at large.

SAC added that the working class is opposed to any dictatorship from the people in power. It will be difficult for Eskom to take a moral high ground because of the corruption that has been revealed. Monies are looted and communities cannot be punished for government failures. “We are not going to rest until such time that those involved in Eskom corruption are brought to book and more importantly, until Eskom suspends the prepaid service and speaks to the people in a broader consultative and more participatory manner”, said the Committee.

According to the statement issued by Eskom, Soweto residents owe Eskom more than R17 billion and the increasing incidences of illegal connections lead to overloading which often results in failure of transformers and mini-substations. This includes meter tampering, electricity theft and vandalism of infrastructure. Eskom is now refusing to restore power supply to areas that have experienced repeated failures due to illegal connections and meter tampering. Eskom claims that technicians are often denied access to affected areas to conduct audits and necessary repairs to damaged equipment.

Some of the areas had close to 3 months without electricity. Most affected areas were Soweto, Ivory Park, Braamfischer Ville, Orange Farm and Diepsloot. “We will continue mobilising all communities to join us and we will embark on rolling mass action and protests. Those discussing us in the boardrooms will find us in the streets and remind this government that real power rests in the hands of the working class. WE SAY NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US” Mogapi added.

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