Some Soweto residents feel entitled to free lights

2015-05-14 06:30
(File, DistriksPos)

(File, DistriksPos)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Some of Soweto's residents feel entitled to free electricity as it was one of the things promised to them when the country gained democracy in 1994, a local told News24.

The man, who refused to be named, said the late former president Nelson Mandela's promise of a better South Africa with free education, free electricity, free water and sanitation had not been realised.

"It's sad he died without having had implemented those things," the man told News24 on Wednesday.

He was speaking just days after the area of Orlando in Soweto had erupted in protests, with locals rejecting Eskom's move to install prepaid electricity meters in the area.

Many of the locals have demanded a flat rate, saying the proposed prepaid system will not work.

One unemployed woman who owns a house in Orlando, Soweto, admitted to not paying the monthly bills which she received.

‘I don’t pay’

“I don't want to lie. I don't pay every month because it seems like when you pay every month, it's the more money they demand," she said.

She did not however, want the prepaid meter to be installed in her yard.

"Those who have them already are complaining of how expensive they are. Eskom never communicated with us before and they never taught us how the system works," said the woman.

She explained that they had heard that Eskom would scrap whatever existing bill each household had if the homeowner agreed to have a prepaid meter installed.

"While the previous bill was meant to be scrapped, the prepaid doesn't last.  Money loaded on to it is finished quickly and this has made people think that maybe we are still indirectly be paying for the old debt," the woman said.

News24 caught up with another Orlando resident as she walked home from work.

She told News24 that unlike many of her neighbours, she paid her dues to Eskom.


"Quite a lot of people are not paying and it's been years now," the woman said.

 She personally had no problem with the proposed system if Eskom would be transparent about the process.

"I honestly think Soweto people are being unreasonable by demanding this flat rate of R400. What if people in the suburbs wanted the same thing? It would never work," she said.

"We have backrooms and shacks in the yards causing the electricity prices to go very high.  A flat rate is impossible," she said.

News24 saw quite a few yards around Soweto which had numerous shacks erected in one yard. Some of the shiny, silver shacks had DSTV decoders mounted on them.

Meanwhile, a young man waiting for his car to be washed in Vilakazi Street said he understood why many house owners agreed to have shacks and rooms erected and rented out to other families on their yards.

"Unemployment is very high and you also find that we are overpopulated," said the man.

"Many people are living in backrooms. You find a person who rents out the rest of his yard by building shacks and what not. They end up using a lot of electricity and that person [the house owner] cannot afford electricity but only accepts money from the renters because that is how he makes a living."

Eskom criticism

He also called for a flat rate but criticised Eskom for allegedly installing the meter boxes on the sly.

"When they took out the old electrical boxes outside the yards and installed the new ones they said they were doing electrical upgrades. We were told to sign documents without knowing what we were signing for," he said.

While Eskom has been implementing rolling blackouts, Soweto residents claim to have been hardest hit by the power outages. Some say the township residents are being punished for rebelling against the new meter system.

A march led by the African National Congress against the power cuts was to be held in Soweto on Thursday.

Read more on:    eskom  |  johannesburg  |  soweto  |  electricity

Join the conversation! 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.
NEXT ON NEWS24X 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 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.