Soweto households without electricity for seven months

Premier blames Eskom for delays

By Silver Sibiya

28 February 2024

Jemina Sibeko, 84, said she paid her electricity bills regularly, but she is one of those who have been sitting without power for seven months. Photo: Silver Sibiya

About 160 households in Dobsonville in Soweto have been without electricity since June when a transformer failed. Many of those affected are pensioners.

Eskom says the failure of the transformer was due to people illegally bypassing their meter boxes. Gauteng Eskom spokesperson Amanda Qithi said when transformers failed, those who had been illegally using electricity were disconnected and asked to pay a “remedial fee” of R6,052.60. This could be paid in stages starting with a payment of R500. When 60% of those involved had paid, a new transformer could be installed and the connections could be restored, she said.

But Qithi acknowledged that although the 60% threshold had been reached in the Dobsonville case, the households had still not been connected to electricity.

“We have not concluded the work that needs to be done before supply can be restored. We are still busy with the installation of smart meters and other equipment that is required. Thereafter, we will start to normalise the network,” Qithi said.

In November, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi visited the area and promised that the households would have electricity by Christmas.

Asked about the delay, his spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, said installations had not been completed before Christmas as some Eskom and City Power employees had taken holidays and work slowed.

“However, everyone is back at work, and we are stepping up our initiative to make sure that every home and township has been properly switched on,” he said.

Eighty-four-year-old Jemina Sibeko, who lives with two grandchildren, said she had never bypassed her meter box. “I pay electricity. I even still have receipts to prove I pay, that’s why they should bring it back.”

She said residents had marched to the ANC headquarters in Luthuli House. “They told us it is not their issue; Eskom should fix it,” she said.

Qithi said she was unable to say when power would be restored.

“We will give updates as work progresses”, she said.