Dozens of Imizamo Yethu residents have blamed a faulty sub-station for plaguing their lives for the past two years, leaving them without electricity for large parts of the day.
The residents say they have asked repeatedly for the City to address the issue, but the problem persists and they have to use paraffin lamps so their children can study at night.
“This has been going on since 2014,” said Lusanda Bizani, on behalf of the residents. “What happens is that the switch at the sub-station goes down, meaning that we have to put it up ourselves. Unfortunately, this happens at random parts of the day, so you never know when the power is going to be cut.
“This is especially bad in winter when we need heating. What we find frustrating is that we pay for our electricity, but this sub-station never works.”
The gate to the Molekwana Street sub-station, which is ringed by a fence, is now permanently open because residents go in there to push up the switch when the power goes off.
“What’s worse is that there are people here in the township who are illegally connecting to residents’ electricity boxes. These boxes are not working, but they are loading more people onto their boxes, which means any power that does come through is being taken away from paying residents,” Mr Bizani said.
“Sometimes there are more than 10 people to one electricity box.
“We also have to pay the additional cost for paraffin. Of course that increases the chance of shack fires. The City has come here before, but the problem never gets sorted out properly. When we tell them about it, they say they are working on it.”
Mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, however, said illegal electricity connections and not a faulty sub-station, were to blame for the power tripping in the area.
“Unfortunately, this is not a unique situation and is experienced in many parts of the metropole where illegal connections overload the infrastructure and drastically shorten its lifespan. The residents who are tapping into the electricity infrastructure are residing on land that it not viable for electrification,” he said.
“The City of Cape Town empathises with residents and assures them that we are doing everything possible to address the issue of illegal connections. While our staff endeavour to re-establish electricity supply as soon as it is compromised, residents often reinstate the illegal connections at the first opportunity.
“We also appeal to residents to please report such incidents to the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089 or by sending an SMS to 31220. Residents should also resist the temptation to connect to the grid illegally.”