Diepkloof power cut threatens 86-year-old woman's life

Diepkloof power cut threatens 86-year-old woman's life
© Provided by SowetanLive

An 86-year-old woman from Diepkloof Zone 3, Soweto, has to ask residents in nearby Zone 4 to refrigerate her medication amid the two-week power cuts in her area. 

Mathilda Mabe, who has been living with a chronic condition for more than 50 years lives in one of the 700 houses that have been without electricity since November 24. 

The residents said power utility Eskom switched off their supply.                  

Yesterday, protesting residents barricaded the Soweto Highway near the N1 with large rocks, burning tyres, tree branches and heaps of uncollected refuse over the power cuts.

Mabe, who lives with her daughter Alina, 56, said she had to put her insulin in a cooler box in order to refrigerate it. She has to inject herself twice a day – in the morning and afternoon.

“Since we do not have electricity, I buy ice bags, put them in a cooler box and then place the injection inside it so that they can be at a cold temperature. Sometimes we have to go to our friends’ houses in Zone 4 and ask them to refrigerate my injections for me. This is really frustrating,” said a distraught Mabe.

Mabe, who lives on an old-age pension grant of R1,910, said thus far she spent R68 to buy ice bags, R144 on refilling their paraffin lamps and R250 to fill up their gas stove.

“We are really suffering. A few days after our power was switched off, we had to throw away our rotten food. We threw away meat, viennas, butter and milk. Who is going to refund us? We are now living from hand to mouth because we buy meat every two days, cook and eat it immediately,” said Mabe.

“What we are going through is uncomfortable. Eskom is failing us. We use a prepaid electricity system, so we do not owe Eskom any money,” said a frustrated Alina.

Similarly, Jabulani Mzindle, 21, has had to spent more than R5,000 to keep the lights on in his house.

Mzindle, a tattoo artist, runs Soweto Ink – a business that does tattoos and piercings. He runs the business from his home with three colleagues. Soweto Ink has been operating since 2016.

Mzindle said he had bought a generator that cost him around R3,000. He said he had to fill up the generator three times a day with petrol at a cost of R300 a day.

“We have been negatively affected. This generator helps us to keep the lights on, turn on our tattoo machines and use our stove to cook,” said Mzindle.

Mzindle said before the power cut he would receive 20 clients a day making R6,000 a week but now he received 10.

Ronel Kotze from Eskom’s Gauteng communication department said electricity supply to Diepkloof Zone 3 was disconnected due to high energy losses as a result of illegal connections, meter bypassing and customers buying electricity from ghost vendors.

“Network audits are a standard Eskom process to manage energy losses and improve revenue collection in all its areas of supply across Gauteng. During this process, illegal connections are removed, the network is secured, any damages to the infrastructure is repaired and re-connection fees are issued to customers found to be in contravention as is the case with Diepkloof Zone 3.

“Around 700 customers were disconnected and issued with a reconnection fee of R6,052.52 for non-payment of electricity. Supply will then be restored once the reconnection fees have been settled,” Kotze.

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