South Africa: Soweto Residents Protest Over Lack of Electricity

Some residents of Protea Glen in Soweto took to the streets on Wednesday morning, demanding electricity.

Streets and roads, including part of the N12 freeway, leading in and out of the area were blockaded with objects to prevent morning traffic from flowing.

Police spokesperson Captain Mpande Khoza said more officers had been deployed to the area to maintain law and order.

"Many streets and roads are blocked with rocks and other objects, preventing vehicles from passing. We don't know what time they started protesting, but have been informed that they are demanding electricity. Some parts of Soweto have electricity, except for few areas in the area," said Khoza.

Residents of Soweto owe Eskom more than R17bn due to non-payment for electricity.

In a statement last week, Eskom vowed not to continue repairing faulty equipment in areas where non-payment for electricity consumption is high.

The power utility said it was experiencing an increasing number of repeated equipment failures in some areas, especially in Gauteng.

Eskom said the increase was primarily due to illegal connections, leading to overloading which resulted in the failure of transformers and mini-substations. This was exacerbated by meter tampering, electricity theft and vandalism of infrastructure.

"Increased equipment failure has a significant negative impact on our operations, finances and safety of our employees and the public. Eskom has taken a decision that it will not be restoring power to areas that have repeated failures due to illegal connections, meter tampering and bypassing," the power utility said.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said he was trying to engage with Eskom to find a lasting solution that would ensure that power was brought back to areas affected by blackouts in Soweto.

He has threatened to report Eskom to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) if it fails to heed his call.

Source: News24

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