Eskom has warned that it will begin regular scheduled interruptions to three municipalities in the Free State, including the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality where Bloemfontein is located, unless it gets paid for the provision of electricity.
The other two affected municipalities are the Mafube and Mantsopa local municipalities.
The power utility, in a statement, said the municipalities had repeatedly failed to honour the payment of their electricity accounts. They will begin facing scheduled power interruptions should they fail to pay Eskom or enter into payment agreements.
The struggling power utility, which has a group debt burden of about R450bn, said indefinitely stopping the provision of electricity to municipalities that do not pay would cause "undue hardships on consumers".
For this reason it has resolved to withhold electricity for 16 hours between 06:00 and 20:00 on weekdays and weekends from December 3, but provide electricity overnight for eight hours. It added that it could also decide to terminate electricity completely on seven days notice.
National Treasury in November imposed the recovery of municipal debt by Eskom from municipalities as one of 28 conditions in return for a R59bn lifeline to keep the power utility afloat and enable it to pay interest on its mounting debt burden. President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the bill granting Eskom the funds last week.
Eskom said it is planning on cutting off power to households in Soweto after it found that a number of them tampered with their prepaid power meters.
Eskom told Fin24 on Monday that the disconnections of electricity for non-payment is an ongoing process.
"It is part of the business operations in all areas supplied by Eskom. This is not only happening in Soweto, but in all areas," Eskom said via email.
According to Eskom, of the 180 000 customer prepaid meters in Soweto, 120 000 meters had been tampered with. Gauteng has a total of 760 000 prepaid customers and 490 000 of these have tampered with meters.
"Eskom constantly monitors the buying history of customers and audit meters. Tampered meters are disconnected and tamper fines are issued. Upon payment of the tamper fines, the customer is reconnected," Eskom said.