Gauteng shutdown – Soweto demands free electricity

February 26, 2020
Posted in Article
February 26, 2020 Tumelo Moloi

Many areas across Gauteng are expected to come to a standstill on Tuesday 25 February, with protestors demanding free electricity, housing and land.

Residents of Soweto, Alexandra, Tembisa, Ga-Rankuwa and other townships are expected to participate in the shutdown.

The “Gauteng Shutdown” comes ahead of the State Of The Province address by Premier David Makhura which takes place on Tuesday.

Metro Police Department spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said there will be a strong police presence to help control the protests.

He added that the Metro Police will work with other law enforcement agencies to deal with the protests.

Soweto residents fighting back against power cuts

On Sunday, the Soweto electricity crisis committee said that it was planning to shut down the township during the State of the Province Address and the national Budget Speech this week.

The group is challenging the township’s R18 billion electricity bill from Eskom as well as electricity cut-offs.

Eskom recently disconnected various areas in Soweto because of non-payment, which include Mapetla, Rockville, White City, Central Western Jabavu, and Dlamini.

These disconnections form part of a drive by Eskom to cut power to households which fail to pay their electricity bills or that have illegal connections.

Many residents have reconnected themselves to the grid. These illegal connections include wiring directly from streetlights and running wires directly from their homes to the distribution boxes.

To ensure their illegal connections stay up, groups of residents are guarding electrical boxes to prevent Eskom employees from disconnecting them again.

Open letter by Ramaphosa

Households across South Africa owe Eskom around R40 billion in unpaid bills – but it’s Soweto that accounts for the biggest chunk.

Non-payment in Soweto is endemic and illegal connections a common feature in the township.

In an open letter published at the end of October 2019, Ramaphosa said that Eskom is also owed huge amounts of money by individual users.

The President bemoaned the culture of non-payment which exists in several parts of the country.

“Boycotting payment for services had a place in apartheid, South Africa. It was an effective tool to mobilise communities against an unjust system.

“But it has no place in present-day South Africa. If public utilities like Eskom are to survive, then all users need to pay for the services they receive,” the president said.

Soweto demanding free electricity

Gauteng Shutdown flyer

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