South Africa: Indigent Households Reminded to Claim for Free Basic Electricity

Eskom in KwaZulu-Natal is stepping up its efforts to remind qualifying indigent households to claim their benefit of limited free electricity, as provided by the government's Free Basic Electricity (FBE) programme.

The FBE is a longstanding initiative that forms part of government's policy of providing support to the unemployed, low-earning, the destitute and the elderly.

FBE is implemented by Eskom and municipalities through providing a maximum of 50 or 60 kiloWatt hours (kWh) per month of free electricity to support qualifying low income households.

This is an amount of electricity that is considered enough to run basic lighting, provide basic media access, basic ironing, and to boil water using an electric kettle.

General Manager for Eskom in KwaZulu-Natal, Agnes Mlabo, said raising awareness of FBE will help alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 national lockdown on indigent households.

"As Eskom we have come to realise that an unfortunately large number of our indigent households do not exercise their right to claim this benefit which could help cushion the impact of the COVID-19 national lockdown. This is because they are either unaware of the free basic electricity or because they have not registered for it with their municipalities," Mlambo said in a statement on Monday.

Mlambo encouraged low income households to approach their municipalities to register as indigent, in order to collect their allocated free basic electricity every month.

"Customers who qualify for FBE but who are not currently collecting it, must approach their municipalities and register to receive their free allocation. Once registered with the municipality, the customer's details are loaded on the Eskom system where they get credited with free electricity tokens every month," Mlambo explained.

She also emphasised that the free token must be used for the month on which it is issued, as it expires.

Mlambo added that when the free token has been used up, you will then need to buy additional units.

Eskom supplied customers who wish to ascertain whether they qualify for the FBE benefit can visit their municipal office for more information, or ask their ward councillor or Community Development Worker (CDW). They can also contact Eskom on 0860 037 566.

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