Over 20 years without electricity
A FAMILY in Zola, Soweto, have lived in darkness for over 20 years after their electricity supply was disconnected.
It will cost them R2100 to reconnect the power supply, but they cannot afford the payment.
Bongani Nhlapo, 49, who went blind in 1996 after he was shot, lives with his partner Nelisiwe Tshabalala and their three children aged 20, 12 and five.
They live off his disability grant and the two younger children's grants.
They also receive donations of groceries and clothing from their church and local community.
"The electricity was cut off in the 1980s before we moved in and the house was still under someone else's name," Nhlapo said.
He also said that a tenant who was renting the house from his cousin before they moved in, went behind the family's back and registered the house in his name and did not pay for municipal services.
"We even went to the department of housing to inquire about the ownership and they confirmed that the house really belongs to us. We are still waiting for the new title deed we applied for three years ago," said Nhlapo.
In an effort to sort out the confusion with Eskom, Nhlapo was told he owed about R60000 in electricity arrears.
"When we approached Eskom, they told us we owed about R60000 and had to fix the title deed issue and pay R2100 before they could help us," said Nhlapo.
Eskom confirmed the house was registered under a different name, something that had to be corrected, and that payment needed to be made before installation of prepaid electricity meter box.
"Bongani has to pay R2100 (to convert) from a conventional to prepaid meter box. He has to submit documents such as pensioner's proof, letter of authority from the councillor, letter of medical report and an identity document," said their media desk.
Eskom also said they advised Nhlapo to follow procedure by producing documents and making small payments on the installation fee.
Nhlapo said that on seeking assistance from the councillor, a letter was given to them to give to Eskom but that failed to make a difference.
Zola councillor Siphiwe Zulu declined to comment, but invited the family to a meeting where he said he would see how he could assist them.
Their plight forces them to make use of a coal stove in the kitchen, which has affected their health and the condition of the household.
Their kitchen is coated in black soot caused by the stove, which Nhlapo said regularly causes everyone in the house to fall sick.
"It's really cold now. We can only afford to make a fire in the morning for tea before the kids go to school and in the evening so that they can at least eat and bath with warm water."
For the children, it is difficult to understand. "Our youngest child asked why we don't have electricity while the other houses are lit.
"The kids want to do their homework and watch TV, but the neighbours also get tired of their intrusion." - firstname.lastname@example.org