Power utility Eskom safely evacuated its employees that it claimed were being held against their will by angry residents of Morula View in Mabopane, over the lack of power supply in the area. According to Eskom, the hostage situation followed the community’s demand for the replacement of a mini-substation in their area.
Eskom spokesperson Amanda Qithi said in a statement: “Eskom has experienced high incidents of equipment failure due to the network being overloaded through illegal connections, unauthorised operations on the network, meter bypasses and tampering, and infrastructure vandalism.”
On Monday, angry residents of Morula View in Mabopane took to the Eskom offices in Ga-Rankuwa, demanding the restoration of the power supply to the area. News24 explained that according to the residents, they have been without power since 19 August, after a mini-substation transformer was vandalised. Community member Ranku Mabuso told News24 the utility company confiscated electricity metres after conducting an audit in the community.
“Eskom promised us that power would be restored if 50% of the residents paid their outstanding electricity bill. However, nothing has changed,” Mabuso explained. “They have since changed their statement and now they are saying that we should wait for the end of November.”
Residents denied claims that they held Eskom employees against their will. “We are not holding the Eskom employees hostage. All we did was park outside their offices. We did not harm anyone, even though they have decided to lock themselves up and not come out to communicate with us.” Qithi said no injuries were reported during the incident.
She added that Eskom was dealing with a shortage of mini-substations, which led to delays in the replacement of this equipment. “The Morula View community is among the customers who are unfortunately affected by the delays,” she said. “We are working with manufacturers for a faster turnaround time so that we are able to replace the failed equipment and restore supply to our paying customers.”
Meanwhile, Mabuso said they were soliciting support from other communities and will continue camping at the offices until they get a response. Eskom condemned the hostage incident, saying it believed issues can be resolved without threatening the lives of its employees. “We urge communities to be patient with us as we work on resolving the mini-substation shortages. We also implore them to refrain from violent and criminal acts such as holding our staff hostage,” Eskom added.
By: Mpho Khena.