Gauteng residents have become a menace - Eskom

Eskom say their employees receive a barrage of abuse each time they have to perform their duties at certain Soweto and Tshwane areas.
Eskom say their employees receive a barrage of abuse each time they have to perform their duties at certain Soweto and Tshwane areas.
Image: Eskom

Some Gauteng townships have become a nightmare for Eskom employees, who are often intimidated and assaulted when working in these areas.

The power utility have spoken out about the dangers their employee face when visiting these areas, where illegal connections have become the norm.

Eskom yesterday said Braamfischer and Klipspruit, both in Soweto and the City of Tshwane's Ivory Park, Orange Farm and Winterveld have especially given the company serious problems with rife illegal connections and vandalism of infrastructure.

“The members of various communities in the abovementioned areas and other identified hot spot areas, bypass their meters, illegally connect themselves to the network, and vandalise electricity infrastructure which leads to sporadic power supply interruptions. This is because the transformers become overloaded, particularly during the winter period and subsequently catch fire or explode as their protections have been interfered with and vandalized,” said Motlhabane Ramashi, Eskom’s operationas and maintenance manager.

The company added that it was also concerned about the increased number of incidents where its offices are blockaded, employees are sometimes assaulted and intimidated.

“This harassment and intimidation is also being experienced by our employees whilst driving and operating in the field across Gauteng.  The safety of  Eskom employees remains a major concern at this stage, and these cases have been reported to the law enforcement agencies for further investigation,” Ramashi said.

With the number of these cases on the rise, Eskom said it was not able to replace mini-substations an pole mounted transformers in particular areas where residents are not paying for their electricity.

Non-payment for electricity has been a serious problem for Eskom as it directly impacts on its revenue and its ability to maintain infrastructure.

“It is unfortunate that extreme measures of withdrawing services in such areas are temporarily implemented to protect our employees’ safety until these areas are declared safe for operations.  In addition we continue to engage with the respective communities to ensure that we resolve the issues of non-payment and safeguard electricity infrastructure for the benefit of our communities,” said Ramashi.

EWN reported on Monday that in just six months, Soweto residents' debt increased by more than a R1bn, to R18bn. Debt in the country’s biggest township has been a serious problem at Eskom for years.

This pushed the power utility to introducing prepaid meters which also received a lot of resistance from the Sowetans.

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