Soweto residents: ‘Eskom is pulling us into poverty’

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Soweto residents, among them pensioners, picketed outside Eskom’s Megawatt Park offices in Sandton on Wednesday morning. They are demanding that the power utility, which they say has ignored their pleas for more than two years, to address the power situation in their townships. Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press
Soweto residents, among them pensioners, picketed outside Eskom’s Megawatt Park offices in Sandton on Wednesday morning. They are demanding that the power utility, which they say has ignored their pleas for more than two years, to address the power situation in their townships. Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

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Soweto residents braved the chilly weather on Wednesday morning, taking their grievances to the Eskom headquarters at Megawatt Park in Sandton. They were demanding that the power utility should reconnect electricity in some areas of the township which have been in the dark for more than 10 months.

Several residents told City Press that they had reported the matter to Eskom and their ward councillors but nothing had been done fro almost a year. They said Pimville and Dobsonville were the most affected by the outages.

Pensioner Nokuzile Nkwanyana (60), said she had been struggling with chest pains caused by smoke inhalation. She cooks for her seven grandchildren every night and the children’s homework was also affected.

A pensioner
A pensioner sits outside the Megawatt Park offices in Sandton on Wednesday as part of a picket by Soweto residents. Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

“I’ve been using painkillers every day because of the smoke. I have no other choice. I live with seven grandchild who are dependent on me,” she said.

“Candles are expensive, we can’t buy them every now and then. So the children cannot do their schoolwork in the dark and have to do it in the morning the next day.”

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Nkwanyana, of Pimville, said the community had tried to engage authorities since August last year.

“It’s nearly a year now in darkness, nobody is saying anything about when the problem will be sorted out,” she said.

Carpenter Jabulani Tshabalala (41), also of Pimville, shared similar sentiments. He said he was struggling to make ends meet.

“My work requires me to use machines which are obviously dependent on electricity. I have lost a lot of customers and I can’t provide for my four kids,” Tshabalala said.

This situation is pulling us into poverty
Jabulani Tshabalala

He said he has been losing R1 500 a month since the outage started last year. “My family and I are battling to survive. We can’t afford the basics we need, including gas and paraffin,” he said.

Tshabalala said he was hoping Eskom would resolve their problems. “A new box [sub station] will solve all our problems so I can start getting business again.”

He said because he also relied on casual retail jobs, he could not get them because his phone was always off. “I am missing out on my income streams. This situation is pulling us into poverty. I really hope that Eskom will take this march seriously,” he said.


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