Attack on Eskom technicians leaves Khayelitsha families without electricity for a month

Services resumed after a meeting with community leaders

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Eskom services were suspended in Enkanini following an attack on Eskom technicians. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso

Some families in Enkanini, Khayelitsha, have spent a month without electricity after Eskom suspended services in the area following an attack on its technicians.

Eskom services were suspended on 21 December 2023 after two Eskom technicians were robbed at gunpoint.

Families had to live with prolonged power outages due to vandalised and damaged infrastructure which Eskom staff did not fix during the suspension. Services resumed on 16 January after a meeting between Eskom and community leaders.

Residents blamed the intimidation of Eskom staff on a syndicate extorting money from companies in the area.

“The residents are happy that finally the Eskom staff are back in our community. We lived through the festive season without electricity because the damaged infrastructure could not be fixed,” said resident Themba Jayiya.

“We are also scared of these criminals. They are known in the community but no one wants to speak out because our lives will be in danger. Law enforcement needs to strengthen up because at the end of the day the people are suffering,” he said.

Jayiya said he had not had electricity for a month and had not been able to buy meat or anything that needed a refrigerator. “It felt like a month-long loadshedding,” he told GroundUp.

Another resident, Mpumelelo Nkalweni, said it should not have taken so long for Eskom to return. “If Enkanini was an affluent area close to Cape Town CBD, the service would have been restored the following day by escorting the workers with law enforcement. Eskom does not care about us. How do they think we have been coping all these weeks, even spending Christmas without power?” said Nkalweni.

He said some residents had resorted to illegally connecting electricity. “People had no choice because they felt ignored.”

Eskom spokesperson Kyle Cookson said Eskom and the community leaders had come to an agreement “to rally the community of Enkanini to assist in fighting criminal behaviour that leaves Eskom employees traumatised”.

“Eskom strongly condemns the harassment of its employees, and their safety will always remain our highest priority,” said Mbulelo Yedwa, Eskom’s General Manager at the Cape Coastal Cluster. “Eskom continues to work with law enforcement agencies to curb the criminal activities.”

He said crime could be addressed through partnerships and regular engagements, so as to ensure the uninterrupted supply of electricity to customers.

TOPICS:  Crime Electricity

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