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Living dangerously: Chest-freezer, beds, wardrobe and stove in substation

Mom and four children evicted from transformer substation they turned into home


A mother and her four children were evicted from a City Power substation structure that they had turned into their home in Randburg.

They family believed to be from Zimbabwe had occupied a 11kV high voltage transformer substation chamber making it a home with furniture that included a chest-freezer, beds, wardrobe and stove, among other things.

The mother’s youngest child is about three years of age. It was not immediately clear for how long they have been living in the substation chamber.

"We have warned against the dangers posed by occupation of electricity transformation substation chambers across the City of Johannesburg," said MMC for environmental and infrastructure services department Mpho Moerane.  

“While the situation we found today is a sad one, it is a very dangerous one and there are even children involved. The biggest concern is illegality and vandalism that happened for them to be in there in the first place. That’s why we had to save them by evicting them.

“Already three people were found electrocuted after being found staying in the chambers, two of them coming in the Hursthill area, which includes Westbury,” read the statement.

The city said it was talking to the social development department and other authorities to assist the family with a place to stay and other social needs.

The municipality said they are on a mission to “phase off over 18 000 transformer chambers across the city because most of them are old, but also because they are attractive to vagrants who make them their homes”.

During the operation, several businesses were found with illegal connection of electricity, with a furniture shop and upholstery business closed for trading illegally.

Moerane said Home Affairs  will  be roped in to check the legality of some of the businesses raided.

He  said these kinds of operations will be intensified across the business centres .

"It's simple, businesses can afford to pay for services and they need to come onboard and assist the City in revenue collection. If they don't pay for services, we will come to them and assist them in ensuring they pay,"  Moerane said.

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