'My son is gone because of exposed wire'

Father wants justice after Eskom allegedly ignored matter councillor reported

Koena Mashale Journalist
Neo Mosimanga.
Neo Mosimanga.
Image: Supplied

It took Neo Mosimanga's death for Eskom to finally cut and remove a low-hanging live wire that was allegedly reported two months ago. 

Mosimanga, 21, passed away on Thursday after his hand-held grass-cutting machine got hooked on a piece of a live wire that was reported to Eskom by the local ward councillor, who was told the wire was not live.

Ward councillor, Thandi Khoza, said she personally reported the wire at their local Eskom offices and was told not to worry about it because it was not live.

“The community was suffering for three days because a mini substation that was stolen and so myself and another ward councillor suggested going to the Eskom offices to speak to them about fixing the matter,” said Khoza.

She said they had a meeting with an official on duty known as Malopa and the community representative about the electricity problems.

“I further asked them about the low-hanging wire as I was receiving grievances from the community about it but I was told that there was no problem with it and that it wouldn’t hurt anyone. I asked them again about it and they said the same thing again, that it wouldn’t hurt anyone but here we are today,” said Khoza.

Ward councillor, Mookgo Tshabalala, who also attended the meeting corroborated Khoza’s allegations.

“This is not the first time complaints about low-hanging wires are made, if they aren’t made by councillors, then by the residents who are in danger because of these wires. She said in her ward, there are low-hanging wire that she has been reporting for more than two years but they still have not been addressed by Eskom,” said Tshabalala.

Eskom spokesperson, Ntombifuthi Hlophe said they did not have records showing that the wire was reported to them. "We only found out about it on the same day that the incident happened and we responded immediately on site."

Mosimanga used his machine to cut grass for the locals in order to raise funds for college.

Mosimanga’s father, Johannes Mokoena, received the distressing call about his son around 4pm. 

“I was in the house with my sister and that’s when I got a call from his mother about the matter. She said to me, come quickly Neo is dead and before I could say anything else she hung up. When we got there [to the scene] an ambulance was already there and Neo’s body was covered by a white sheet,” said Mokoena.

Mokoena said that he was nervous as to what he would see under the sheet.

“I had all sorts of images in my head, I thought the worst because they kept telling me he was electrocuted.

“I was so shocked because I didn’t understand how this could happen. My son was coming back from work and was heading to another job when his machine got hooked to the wire,” Mokoena said yesterday.

Legal practitioner Kirstie Haslam from DSC Attorneys, who specialises in personal injury, said there was an increase in cases involving injuries and deaths because of exposed wires. 

“Ten years ago, we would get one or two case in a year but now we current have between eight and 10 that are currently before courts and this has been a trend for the past few years. It is a growing concern and it shows that responsible entities are not doing their oversight and maintenance which is when they can pick up any structural faults.

“What we have also noticed is that these entities tend to be defensive when such incidents are reported to them and they do not want to take responsibility,” said Haslam.

Mokoena said all he wants is for Eskom to learn its lesson from his son’s death.

“I want justice. I don’t know what they can do but my son is gone and there is nothing I can do about it but they [Eskom] should improve and stop being negligent. They need to learn so that no one else dies again,” said Mokoena.

He said his son had aspirations to be a police officer.

“I can still hear his voice speaking about his dream to finish school and become a policeman. He would always tell me about what he would do when he achieve his goal, how he would build a house, or make everything better at home but now all I am left with are those dreams and my son is gone because of wires that were long reported by the ward councillor,” said Mokoena.

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