Powerless Joburgers can't work from home, City Power blames cable theft

Johannesburg residents who rely on electricity to work from home have expressed frustration about power outages.
Johannesburg residents who rely on electricity to work from home have expressed frustration about power outages.
Image: Daniil Peshkov/ 123rf.com

Residents in some parts of Johannesburg have expressed frustration about constant power outages since Monday.    

On social media platforms, City Power attributed the outages to cable theft.

The cuts affected businesses and people working from home, and meant pupils were unable to attend online classes. Affected areas include Soweto, Northriding, Roodepoort, Cleveland, Houtkoppen and Alexandra.

One resident, Shelley Pembroke, said the outages had cost her dearly.

“For people who are still lucky to have jobs, we want to put in effort as much as we can, but it’s impossible.”

Pembroke said the outages affected the number of hours she is required to work daily. 

“A lot of the work I do is online. If there’s no electricity, it makes me useless.”

After five hours without power on Monday, she said the day was wasted.

Pembroke said she does not have the option of driving to her workplace as she is not an essential-service worker.  

“I’m going to have to take the day from my annual leave to compensate for the loss of work," she said. If the  outage had been scheduled, she would have tried to make  arrangements, she said. “Unlike load-shedding, it’s not like I could plan.”

Another resident, Jeanette Verster,  said her laptop and cellphone batteries ran out of power.

“It’s a nightmare. My phone died in the middle of an important meeting,” she said.   

The mother of two said her child in grade 7 could not attend video classes,  which possibly meant a double workload the next day.    

Verster said she had considered driving to work  but she could not leave home as her automated garage door wouldn't open.

Pembroke said she feared some people may be forced to violate lockdown regulations.  

“My worry is that some people will leave their homes to try to find an area with electricity, which defeats the purpose of lockdown,” she said. 

A small business owner who produces face masks and similar products expressed similar frustration.  

“It’s a knock we can’t afford to take,” she said.  

Attempts to reach a spokesperson for City Power were unsuccessful. 

City Power tweeted: "Cable theft is one of the main reasons for constant power outages."

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