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Soweto residents block road in protest over electricity

Soweto residents have blockaded streets over electricity.
Soweto residents have blockaded streets over electricity.
Image: Penwell Dlamini

Residents of Mapetla Extension in Soweto have blocked the main road cutting through the township, demanding electricity.

Police were called in the early hours of Wednesday as angry residents burnt tyres and blocked Manotsi Street, demanding reconnection to the grid. Since the beginning of June, 125 houses have been without electricity after a faulty substation went down. 

One of the residents, Zanele Makhubo, said when they asked Eskom to come and fix the problem they were told that they have to pay their electricity bills first.

"It is not just that we don't want to pay but the people who live in this area are mostly pensioners. They will not be able to pay unless an arrangement is made with Eskom," said Makhubo. She said Eskom should come and speak with the residents, cancel all debts and make new payment arrangements.

Pupils at Mapetla Secondary School could not get into the school due to the protest.

Eskom has been struggling to collect money from Soweto residents for years. In June, residents of Soweto owed Eskom approximately 18bn.

The power utility has been embarking on measures to stop the illegal connection of electricity and to recover its revenue. These measures include removing illegal connections, conducting meter audits, repairing faulty or tampered meters and limiting ghost vending of prepaid electricity.