Eskom announced that it will no longer be replacing substations and transformers in areas where people are not paying for their electricity.
The power utility said it has experienced violent protests in certain areas where residents illegally connect themselves to the electricity network and damage infrastructure.
These areas include Braamfischer and Klipsruit in Soweto, Ivory Park in Ekhurhuleni, Orange Farm in Johannesburg South, and Winterveldt in Tshwane.
“The members of various communities in the above-mentioned areas and other identified hot spot areas bypass their meters, illegally connect themselves to the network, and vandalise electricity infrastructure, which leads to sporadic power supply interruptions,” Eskom said.
“This is because the transformers become overloaded, particularly during the winter period, and subsequently catch fire or explode as their protections have been interfered with and vandalised.”
Eskom said it is concerned about the frequent incidents where its employees are intimidated, its offices are blockaded, and in some cases, its workers held hostage by members of these communities.
Cutting off violent communities
Eskom said the safety of its employees is a major concern, and due to the increased frequency of these incidents, combined with the financial implications these residents are imposing upon the power utility, it would no longer be able to replace damaged infrastructure in these areas.
“Eskom is not in a position to continuously replace mini substations and pole-mounted transformers in particular areas where the residents are not paying for their electricity,” Eskom said.
“Non-payment of electricity does not only impact on the security of supply for paying customers, but also contributes to increased energy and revenue losses coupled with increased operational costs.”
Eskom said it replaces this infrastructure on a regular basis due to the damage caused by illegal connections in these areas.
The power utility said the constant need to replace this infrastructure is not sustainable or in line with its efforts to improve its financial operations.
It added that it would withdraw services from these areas until they are declared safe for operations.
“We would like to condemn violent behaviour and urge our communities to collaborate with Eskom and their respective councillors to deal adequately with electricity-related matters in the Gauteng Operating unit,” said Eskom operations and maintenance manager Motlhabane Ramashi.