South Africa: Soweto Residents to Fight Eskom Over Ballooning Debt and Electricity Disconnections

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Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation, which represents Soweto residents, plans to sue Eskom over a 'blanket approach' taken by the power utility in disconnecting electricity for non-paying and paying households. It wants some Soweto residents to pay a monthly flat rate of R100 per household, irrespective of electricity consumption.

Soweto residents are willing to pay the debt they owe Eskom but are only prepared to do so through an agreement entered into with the struggling power utility to pay electricity tariffs at heavily discounted rates.

This is according to activist organisation Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation (LLHRF), which has also rejected the claim by Eskom that Gauteng-based Soweto owes it billions of rand in unpaid electricity bills. Soweto is directly supplied with electricity and billed by Eskom and not City Power.

In July, Eskom put the Soweto debt at R18-billion (including interest), an amount that has ballooned in recent years due to low payment by customers and the utility's inability to recoup outstanding payments. Eskom is in a dire financial position with insufficient revenue to service its R450-billion debt load and tariffs that do not allow it to recover all costs.

LLHRF, which represents about 250 residents in Soweto areas...

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