Township residents without power for three years

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June 2 2022: Thandiwe Sibuyane, 71, warms herself with the sunshine that streams into her living room during a cold winters day. Sibuyane like others in her community has been without electricity for over three years. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee
June 2 2022: Thandiwe Sibuyane, 71, warms herself with the sunshine that streams into her living room during a cold winters day. Sibuyane like others in her community has been without electricity for over three years. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

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“I’ve had enough,” says Thandiwe Sibuyane, 71, who lives in Palm Springs, south of Gauteng, in section J. Her house, along with 66 others, has been without electricity since mid-2019. “The way we’ve suffered in these years is like 400 years,” she says.

Sibuyane suffers from hypertension, sugar diabetes and arthritis. She says living without electricity has worsened her health. For instance, her diabetes syringes must be kept in the fridge.

I was forced to tell the clinic to stop giving me sugar diabetes medication that stays in the fridge, because where will I put it?


It is 11am on a sunny day, but Sibuyane’s sitting room is chilly. “We survive in the sun like lizards,” Sibuyane says.

“Ngifaka bogum’gedlela bamasokisi because angizenzi (I am wearing long, thick socks simply because I have no other choice). I am extremely cold.”She says the severity of the cold makes it hard to sleep. It takes her and her husband “three to four hours” to get warm before bed, Sibuyane says.

Mmasechaba Mzizi, 76, who lives about 200m from Sibuyane, echoes her sentiments that the lack of electricity has turned their lives upside down.

Mzizi, who also suffers from arthritis says:

Our life is difficult and painful. I’ve had enough of this place. When we came here, we loved this place,”. “If you want to dress up, you’d find that your clothes are cold as if they’ve been poured with water.


Mzizi complains of the difficulty of performing chores such as laundry. “Eh, eh, eh, eh, the water is super cold and when I do my laundry the time is usually around 2.30pm to 3pm. I can’t recall the last time I ironed my clothes,” she says.

It is not only the lack of electricity that is the issue. Many residents also complain of poor service. “I thought this will be a place I will live happily,” Mzizi says.

Our sewerage has been running in the street since last year. It stinks a lot.” Failing infrastructureElizabeth Kwadimane, 73, knows too well the stench Mzizi mentioned. Sewage runs non-stop outside her house, she says. “The municipality hasn’t done anything. I can’t even open my windows. When it’s summertime, you’d see the flies in the passage.


For Kwadimane, emotions overtake what words cannot express. “Our government would keep asking us to vote for them and then they forget about us just like they did for these past years.”

Palm Springs is one of the many townships under the jurisdiction of the financially embattled Emfuleni local municipality, which has been under administration since 2018, following a R1 billion irregular expenditure bill. Last year, the municipality owed about R4.7 billion to creditors, with most owed to Eskom and Rand Water.


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