Eskom workers want safety

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

Eskom technicians will not return to Tshiawelo in Soweto to finish installing new electrical pillar boxes unless their safety was guaranteed and residents stopped attacking them.

The technicians have been having a hard time for weeks doing their work in the area as residents say they will not let them install the new electricity system because it costs them too much.

Eskom's regional communications manager Norah Mmusi, pictured, said although the new system was not different from the old one, it would help stop izinyoka (illegal connecters).

Last week, residents hurled petrol bombs at technicians and police, but the technicians continued with their work.

The residents had also barricaded roads with burning tyres and rocks and spilled refuse on the roads.

Police fired rubber bullets to disperse the residents.

Mmusi said about 120 houses in the area had been without electricity for the past five days after the new boxes had been vandalised.

Community leader Desire Mudau said: "The system costs us a lot of money and the watts run very fast. We are going to fight until our voices are heard."

Three weeks ago the residents marched to Eskom's distribution offices in Soweto to demand that the installation be stopped.

The implementation started in April and has been running smoothly until recently when youths within the community demanded that the pillar boxes be taken out.

Mmusi said no one was being forced to have a prepaid account.