Hundreds of disgruntled residents in Soweto, south of Johannesburg, are calling on power utility Eskom to put an end to the constant power outages in the township. In the early hours of Monday morning, scores of residents took to the streets to protest, blockading several main roads in the area.
Residents were also protesting over other service delivery issues in the area. A large police contingent was deployed to the area and the protesters were dispersed.
Community leader Jaby Nontokolo elaborates, “We had this problem of electricity for a very long time especially here in Soweto. So the people now have had enough. This is the first time we are doing this. That is why we came out here in our numbers to protest against Eskom to stop always giving us a problem with electricity. So now as you see in Potchefstroom road in Pimville, Klipsruit, people are out here to protest against Eskom to listen to their grievances.”
Nontokolo says residents will march to the offices of Johannesburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse on Tuesday morning to voice their grievances.
“We are tired, we are the people who fought for freedom, we are the people who fought in 1976 for people to have freedom, but we are the people who are suffering right now, everybody knows we are suffering.” he adds.
City of Johannesburg intervention
The City of Johannesburg says they are trying to facilitate an engagement between Eskom and the residents of Soweto. MMC for Infrastructure Services Michael Sun says in this case, Eskom is requesting for a R 6 000 re-connection fee before they will connect the residents’ electricity and neither City Power or the City of Johannesburg has any say in such positions.
“In fact, I had a meeting with the acting boss of City Power and requested that City Power once again approach Eskom for another meeting so that we can facilitate any engagements between Eskom and concerned Soweto residents. We hope that the continued knocking on Soweto’s door, Eskom will know the plight of concerned residents.” explains Sun.
Most of the roads which were blocked off to traffic have been re-opened. Johannesburg Metro Police spokesperson Xolani Fihla says officers will remain in the area to ensure calm.
He adds, “Chris Hani Road has been re-opened to traffic following closures at Maponya Mall and Mojaje Street due to service delivery protests in the area. Mokoena Street is still closed off with rocks between Mofokeng and Mbambisi Street. Traffic is free-flowing on Soweto Highway. Officers have been deployed in all the areas mentioned and the situation is calm and motorists are advised to use alternative routes.”