Soweto residents demand power back from Joburg mayor

Hundreds of Soweto residents marched to the city to demand service delivery and electricity. Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

Hundreds of Soweto residents marched to the city to demand service delivery and electricity. Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

Business administration graduate Lerato Moloi believes that not having electricity for five years has deprived her of work opportunities.The 26-year-old Sowetan was among scores of residents, led by Operation Dudula spearheaded by Nhlanhla “Lux” Mohlauhi, who handed over a memorandum of demands to Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse on Tuesday.

Moloi, who was born in Meadowlands, told City Press that she had been struggling to secure employment since she graduated in 2018. She claimed that the constant blackouts in her area, which began in the same year, had resulted in her cell phone’s battery regularly running out, and possibly missing calls from potential recruiters.

“I can no longer afford to pay people in the neighbouring to charge my phone.” Moloi said:

I can go for longer than a week without access to my phone.

Moloi lives with her 68-year-old grandmother and they both survive on her pension grant.

“Living without electricity is expensive because we have to consistently buy food in small quantities so that it does not rot. My grandmother is unable to store her diabetes medication, so she has to take a taxi to the clinic every day to take her medication.”

Diepkloof-based pensioner Elaine Mazibuko said her house was disconnected from the electricity supply after Eskom discovered that her two neighbours had connected electricity illegally.

Soweto parliament leader Nhlanhla Lux leading residents to march in the city to demand service delivery and electricity. Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

The 66-year-old, who has been living in the township for 40 years, said she was disconnected in June 2020 even though she had proof that she had been buying electricity legally.

READ: Township residents without power for three years

“I have been pleading with Eskom to reconnect my electricity because I didn’t do anything wrong. When I called the customer line, they told me that I have to pay R6 000 for a reconnection fee.”

Tuesday’s march was sparked by a demand for better service delivery in the township and was mainly attended by residents from Diepkloof, Pimville, Orlando and Mofolo. Some of the areas have been in the dark for over five years.

Some residents said they have not had electricity for years. Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

A charismatic Mohlauhi told Phalatse that service delivery in Soweto was neglected and the people were willing to take the power back into their hands.

READ: Mpiyakhe Dhlamini | Private, community-driven initiatives are best route to combat government’s failures

Phalatse promised that her office and the relevant working committee would respond to the grievances within 14 days.

A man waves a South African flag as Soweto residents hand over a memorandum of demands to the Joburg mayor. Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

She said Eskom’s relationship with Soweto was independent of the City of Johannesburg, but her office was looking at the prospects of taking over the electricity supply.

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