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‘Culture of nonpayment won’t be accepted’: Phalatse warns Joburg residents who don’t pay for power

Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse says those who can’t afford to pay for electricity should register for the city’s Extended Social Package, a basket of subsidies and rebates for financially distressed ratepayers.
Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse says those who can’t afford to pay for electricity should register for the city’s Extended Social Package, a basket of subsidies and rebates for financially distressed ratepayers.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse has issued a stern warning to the city’s residents who don’t pay electricity bills , saying those who can’t afford to pay should come forward before facing consequences.

Phalatse drew a hard line on electricity issues in Soweto, urging those who can afford the service to pay up. She said those who can’t should register for the city’s Extended Social Package (ESP), a basket of subsidies and rebates for financially distressed ratepayers.

She said the “culture of nonpayment” will no longer be accepted.

“There’s a lot of support for the hard line we have taken, that the culture of nonpayment will no longer be accepted. Those who can’t afford have a responsibility to register for the city’s ESP. We will be continuing with that position,” said Phalatse

“This means you only have two options. You either can afford to pay but you are not paying, or you cannot afford to pay and you are registered for ESP. Anything in between will make you vulnerable as a resident to illegal acts.”

Earlier this year, Eskom urged low-income households to claim their free basic electricity (FBE) once a month. 

The FBE programme aims to alleviate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and assist needy households.

The FBE portion of 50 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity is allocated to households that meet the criteria determined by government.

“The free electricity is given on the first of every month. Some municipalities give 50kWh free electricity and some give 100kWh. FBE users who have prepaid meters will be able to see when their free electricity is finished and will have to buy more,” said Eskom.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has previously called on residents in non-paying areas to join the rest of the country to help make Eskom the world’s “lowest unit cost” producer by paying for electricity.

He said government was providing electricity to non-paying areas, including Soweto, and that needed to change.

He said Eskom used to be “the lowest unit cost electricity producer in the world”, adding that the power utility had a competitive advantage of selling electricity at the cheapest price globally.

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