Residents of the Diepsloot township, Johanesburg, South Africa have no electricity so most of them are forced to install illegal lightning rods to be able to live with power. But the authorities have however now come to tear out these illegal electricity connections.
Eskom technicians were in Diepsloot on Tuesday morning to remove illegal electricity connections. It said that it was trying to clamp down on people siphoning power from the grid as it battled to keep up with demand.
Residents of the township are unhappy. Mary Kgosimodiga is one.
“We have a problem here at our shacks, she says. “We live in a dark place and criminals take advantage and break into our properties. We tried to install electricity so that we can see at night. Children and women are being raped at night, why does the government not pity us, we are of age and unable to do anything and they take our pension money. When we call the police from Diepsloot they take their time to respond.”
Since 2008, to avoid a blackout and a network collapse, Eskom South Africa introduced the concept of load shedding. As demand increased and power needs in the country grows, the South African electricity public utility has implemented at least a 4-hour daily cut in enforcement of its load shedding.
Reneilwe Semenya is the spokesperson for Eskom. “If we don’t deal adequately with informal operations and informal or illegal activities, we will further burden our networks. That’s why we are here today to say that we will continuously do our best to remove illegal connections, we know that this is not a sustainable solution” Semenya explained.
South Africa has been experiencing rampant power cuts due to breakdowns of aging power plants. The country currently uses over 30,000 MW of electricity daily generated from coal-powered stations.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has said he is committed to expanding the country’s electricity generation by an additional 11,800 megawatts (MW) to drive economic growth and reduce carbon emissions.