Anger at frequent power outages

2013-07-03 00:00

COPESVILLE residents who went for five days without electricity, from last Thursday to 7 pm on Monday, have ­accused the municipality of treating them like second-class citizens.

For years they’ve had to put up with their electricity going off at least once or twice a week because of electricity theft in the area.

However, the latest power cut was the longest they’ve had to endure.

By Saturday night, a group of residents were so fed up they staged a protest at the municipal electricity offices in Havelock Road.

The residents accused the municipality of lacking the will to deal decisively with electricity theft in the area.

Many felt the latest power cut had to do with widespread theft of power and cables.

They accused security firm KSA, which was hired by the municipality and whose vehicles are often parked in the ­area, of turning a blind eye to the thieves working right under their noses.

However, KSA managing director Mahomed Yacoob said his company had been employed to escort municipal staff who disconnect illegal connections, as they have come under attack in the past.

He said his security guards are not in the area all the time and do not have the requisite electrical skills to identify illegal connections.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said that this time the power failure was not because of electricity theft.

Zuma said the 11kv powerline feeding the main electricity supply to Copesville had faulted. When there is a problem with the main feed, it becomes a major job to fix.

He said technicians worked around the clock to sort out the problem and that power was restored on Monday.

“More details about the problem will be available today after the technicians have met with management,” ­Zuma said.

The Witness was inundated with calls from Copesville residents who complained that when the lights go out in Hilton there is a huge outcry, while their power woes have been ignored.

A reader posted the following message on Facebook: “Just called mum, parts of Copesville have been without lights for five days. Poor mum has to buy ice packs and save some stuff in the freezer, all the stuff in the fridge has gone off. My mum is a pensioner, money is hard to come by.”

Resident Julie Chetty said her electricity bill comes to R1 500 and more. “I cannot understand why I pay so much because in a month we have no power at least once or sometimes twice a week.

“We, the paying customers, have to sit in darkness, while people stealing electricity have lights all the time,” Chetty said.

Many Copesville residents felt the municipality’s plan to electrify the informal settlements to put an end to theft needs to be tackled with more urgency.

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