Families in the dark waiting for Eskom

Many Wallacedene residents have been without electricity because of faulty installation

Photo of an informal settlement

Electrification has been completed at Wallacedene temporary relocation area, but many residents say the Eskom-installed boxes are faulty. Photo: Vincent Lali

By Vincent Lali

13 July 2017

Residents in a temporary relocation area (TRA) in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein, have been without electricity for months because of faulty electricity boxes installed by Eskom.

Some residents have returned to candles and paraffin, while others connect to their neighbours if they have electricity. In some cases, residents have electricity boxes that work, but they have not been getting their free electricity allocation since the boxes were installed. The City provides poor households with 25 or 60 free kilowatt hours per month depending on total usage (less than 250 kWh or less than 450 kWh on average per month).

Community leader Sibusiso Gibson says he has reported the problem numerous times to the manager in charge of electrification.

According to Eskom, the overall electrification of the TRA is complete and the last 38 customers were connected on 30 April. Eskom says it is in the the process of rectifying the problem “and could only attend to the problem once the customers brought it to our attention”.

But Gibson says he has been calling the manager in charge for months. “He always promises to come and sort out these problems, or says electricians are already on their way … In the end, nobody ever comes to help us.”

Resident Xolani Dimanda said his electricity box was installed in February and it has never worked. The electricians who installed it said it still needed a meter box to be attached. They said they were waiting for meter boxes from the City of Cape Town.

Resident Busisiwe Siganga also said that the electricians who installed her box told her they had run out of meter boxes. They promised to return but did not.

Sibanga then connected to her neighbour, but after the recent rains there was a short and she is now without electricity. Sibanga had waited six years for the electrification of Wallacedene. “I want the electricity box to work so that I can cook and boil water to wash my kids and keep my place warm,” she said. Siganga has two children, aged two and 11. “My kids’ grant money is not enough to buy electricity, so I desperately need free electricity,” she said. GroundUp spoke to several other residents with similar problems.

The City of Cape Town referred GroundUp to Eskom.

Provincial communication manager at Eskom, Jolene Henn, said, “We have found some meters were in fact installed faulty and we have taken this up directly with the supplier.”

She said, “A contractor has been appointed to correct the faulty meters and we are anticipating all work to be done by 16 July 2017.”

Busisiwe Siganga, 28, says the electricians never finished the installation in her shack. Photo: Vincent Lali