Lilianton residents have accused the City of Ekurhuleni of being slow in dealing with electricity thieves in the area and consistently snubbing the community’s call for decisive actions against the perpetrators.
Residents claimed they have for years been trying to get the metro’s energy department to devise emergency actions that are quick and effective to stop the ongoing plundering of the power utility in Duncan and Main Reef roads.
In efforts to get the energy department to act, residents sent emails to the department and senior municipal officials and managers, including MMCs and the city manager Dr Imogen Mashazi.
They even forwarded the matter to the presidency of the country.
These efforts, however, don’t seem to have brought the desired reaction from the government, as the problem still persists in the area.
In an email recently sent to authorities, one of the residents, Charlene Day, stated she had since the beginning of June been trying to get the metro to give feedback on the issue but no one bothered to respond to her email.
Residents said the problem had been going on for years.
Day wrote: “We are fairly disadvantaged in the Lilianton community as a result of illegal connections. We have suffered power failures, with a long list of power disruptions.
“This list indicating each and every power failure has been sent to the energy department, yet we have to endure and suffer power outages. We are paying customers and it’s our right to have illegal connections negatively affecting our economy removed.”
Day said that, as a community, they felt by virtue of not urgently responding to residents’ complaints, the municipality is condoning this illicit behaviour.
“The very same department who was put in power to protect us as citizens do not have the courtesy to reply to complaints nor inform us of any action plan in place addressing our complaints.
“Yet, you are collecting government salaries each month, sitting on problems instead of resolving them.
“We want answers. I will seek a legal body to represent this community if need be, but we will no longer take a back seat to injustice and total disregard for the law by those engaged in illegal connections in our area.”
Despite the ‘snub’, the community is still calling on authorities to decisively deal with the power situation in the area.
“I am kindly requesting feedback on this matter and a proposed outcome in dealing with illegal connections in the affected areas.
“With the cold front approaching, I fear Lilianton will be in darkness as a result of power overload caused by these illegal connections.”
Day said besides load shedding, there was also the widespread and devastating criminal element, with criminals stripping essential electricity infrastructure and plunging the entire suburb into darkness for days.
“Those contributing to reporting such incidents are placed at the back of the line when service is requested, while the concerns not to anger the informal settlements by removing illegal connections takes priority,” said Day.
Electrification and provision of houses and service stands
City manager Mashazi recently told the Advertiser that to deal with the housing backlog, the metro was trying to fast-track the projects to provide houses and serviced stands with all basic services in the metro.
She also pointed out that the metro has allocated more than R1 billion to deal with power outages in general.
Mashazi, however, made it clear that the metro would deal with lawlessness where people steal electricity and invade land.
“If you don’t pay for electricity, you are not going to get it for free. If you can’t pay, you need to register as indigent to qualify to get 100kw power and 9kl of water for free, and that is only for those who are registered as indigent.
“But if you are able to pay and did not pay, we are going to deal with you. We have our EMPD and receive support from the SAPS and SANDF to help the energy department remove illegal connections and arrest the perpetrators.
“We are also upgrading our infrastructure to ensure we deliver power to the people without interruptions.”
Mashazi rejected claims that the metro is in a power crisis, saying such power interruptions are prevalent while people are overloading the grid.
“With many backrooms in some areas, people tend to overload the system in winter. That is why we will be embarking on a project to demolish illegal structures within the metro, as they are, with other forms of illegal connections, causing overload, thus causing unplanned power outages and damages to our infrastructure.”
This article first appeared on Boksburg Advertiser and was republished with permission