Teacher recounts ordeal with Ekurhuleni council
Low voltage electricity query takes 11 painful days
A teacher from Ekurhuleni had to call the municipality’s call centre 24 times, send three emails – including to the mayor and premier – and visited council’s office twice to finally have her electricity fault outage sorted 11 days after she first reported it.
Dimakatso Mokoena from Roodekop had to watch her groceries rot in her fridge, endured cold baths and missed out on some of her school work as her house was hit by low voltage, which lasted for almost two weeks as she waited for municipal technicians to fix the issue. The low voltage that her electricity could produce was only enough to charge her cellphone.
“It happened suddenly on Sunday, September 13. I could not use my microwave, stove, kettle and fridge and I didn't understand why. I checked with the communal WhatsApp group if there was load-shedding and their response was negative. I then logged a call with the municipality's call centre. They gave me a reference number and promised to escalate the issue to the energy department. Nobody came to the house that Sunday,” said Mokoena.
On Monday she reported the matter to her ward councillor, who shared with her the email address of mayor Sivuyile Ngodwana, where she escalated her issue. She was also given contacts for various government offices, including provincial government. There was no immediate response.
On Tuesday, she asked to be released from work to go to the municipal offices in Germiston, where she was told to log another call and that technicians would be sent to her home. Nobody came, and she kept making follow up calls, and on Friday the call centre asked her to log another call and gave her a third reference number.
“The following day [Saturday], I received an SMS from the municipality that my case had been closed. I asked myself how can my case be closed when no technician has been to my house to fix the electricity. My problem had not been solved. I then emailed the head of the department of energy because I was desperate and my fridge was full of rotten food.
“On Monday I took another half day at work to visit the department and I was told to go to the depot, where the electricians are supposed to be. When I got there, their supervisor was not around and he said he'd send someone to my house, so I left without getting any assistance,” said Mokoena.
She said she was surprised when she got a call from her neighbour while at work that the electricians were at her house and fixing her electricity.
“It took them 11 days to fix my electricity. I had to survive on takeaways, which are financially draining. I could not mark my learners' test papers at night because my laptop had died and I didn't have lights. It was a traumatic experience that I didn't deserve because my account is up to date. I'm also worried about what could have caused the low voltage to my electricity and I feel that the issue might come back again because the municipality has not told me what to do to avoid the problem,” said Mokoena.
Municipal spokesperson Zweli Dlamini apologised to Mokoena, saying that her query was mistakenly closed prematurely.
“Normally the call centre would receive a complaint and issue a reference number to the complainant and then escalate the query to the relevant department. Only after the technicians have resolved the problem would an SMS closing the case be sent to the customer,” said Dlamini.
He blamed the delays on the number of call-outs their technicians have been receiving and the duplication of Mokoena’s complaint on their systems.
“The complaint that was closed is actually a duplicate. We do apologise for the delay in response, the teams had to attend to many other calls,” said Dlamini.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.