A shocking situation

2012-04-04 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG family lives in fear of electrocution after a “live” water tap shocked their 12-year-old daughter while brushing her teeth.

The incident comes in the wake of protests by local electricians on Monday who claimed that years of neglect of the city’s electricity infrastructure placed their lives in danger. This after a colleague was almost killed while working on an overhead cable in Sweetwaters at the weekend.

The Keysers discovered their home was dangerously charged on their return from holiday on Sunday when 12-year-old Anna felt volts rush into her as she prepared to brush her teeth. Now the family fears switching on their taps.

Their electrician believes the danger zone stretches all the way across to a damaged electricity pole across Old Howick Road from their home, near World’s View.

“My lips touched the ring of the tap and it stung,” said Anna.

She said she turned the tap off, then on again, thinking it was a once-off thing.

“So I turned it back on and it still buzzed,” Anna added.

Her mother, Laurie Keyser, felt the same buzz on a tap once she had removed her rubber-soled shoes.

But that proved a very temporary remedy. They have since switched off everything and anything electrical, fearing especially for the safety of their children.

“We can’t run a hot bath,” said Keyser.

“Both my husband and I work from home and, basically, our home office is non-functioning.

“I can’t switch on my computer. I can’t risk doing it because the surges that come through vary.

“This is such an inconvenience,” said Keyser.

It’s also highly frustrating for the family who started reporting power failures 18 months ago.

Keyser said the municipal electricity department paid a number of visits, but could never establish that the problem came from an electricity pole, although they had suggested it was the source of their troubles.

Their most recent visit was six weeks ago.

Yesterday the equipment on top of the pole was in serious disrepair, having been damaged by a falling tree more than a year ago and recent storms.

The Keyser’s electrician, Boaz Fero, said the wires that fed the power to the street lights were loose, the neutral wire that supplied power looked burnt, the circuit breakers were slack and excessive current was flowing. “People walking around in the area can also get shocked because of the current flowing on the earth,” Fero warned.

Keyser said she had no joy raising the attention of the electricity department on Monday, the day workers protested over safety issues.

“I was told all the electricians were in a meeting,” she said.

“When I asked to speak to someone in management, I was told everyone in management was also in a meeting. You would think that there would be a back-up system in place that you could count on in this sort of emergency.” Msunduzi Municipality’s acting head of infrastructure, Thokozane Maseko, said he could offer comment only when a municipal electrician had checked the pole.

Keyser told The Witness at the time of going to press that she did not know of any such person having looked at it. What annoyed her, she said, was that the problem could easily have been solved long before it became critical.

Ward 25 Councillor Dave Ryder said there was a lack of communication in the customer service department. He said there needed to be a system in place where the supervisors informed people what progress had been made with their inquiries.

“That would empower the people because what frustrates residents is that they have no access to information,” said Ryder.

He said many people worked from home and could not use the Internet efficiently because of electricity outages.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.