Power surge wreaks havoc

2015-01-13 00:00

SCOTTSVILLE and Pelham residents have lashed out at the Msunduzi Municipality’s electricity department after a power surge destroyed electronic appliances in their homes on Sunday night.

Residents were woken by bursting light bulbs and squealing alarms at around 1.30 am.

According to multiple complaints about the incident, the power supply cut off just before 1 am and, when it returned a half-hour later, it was at a higher voltage and knocked out some of the smaller household appliances in the homes.

Pelham resident Paulina Whitehead said she was just falling asleep when all the light bulbs started flickering.

“Then they got very bright and burnt out. It felt like a horror movie and for a moment I covered my head with the blanket. I could smell a faint burning smell and then my alarm went off,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead (20), a student who lives alone, was furious because her newly bought waffle maker and kettle fell victim to the surge.

“On top of everything, when I called the [electricity] department, nobody took my call. When I finally got through later that morning, they said they did not know what the problem was, but lots of other homes in the area were affected,” she said.

Three homes in Risley Road, near Alexandra Park, were also affected. One resident, who asked not to be named, said they had to get an electrician to repair their damages.

“Our gate motor blew out, our landline blew out, all the light bulbs blew out and the air-conditioner in my room stopped working as well,” the resident said. “We ran out to see if anybody else was affected, and we could see and smell our neighbour’s main power box burning. We were lucky that we switched off the geyser and pool pump when the lights went out.”

The frustrated resident said they had incurred costs of over R2 000 to buy a new telephone, and to get their air conditioner and gate fixed.

Residents believe that the surge was caused by cable theft, as electricity poles lay bare on French Road on the way to Makro.

When The Witness called the electricity department’s call centre, an operator who asked not to be named said there were many complaints related to the incident yesterday, but they did not have an exact figure.

The municipality was approached for comment on the cause and extent of the power surge, but failed to respond before the print deadline.

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