Residents left in the dark

The city plunged into darkness.

Rolling Eskom blackouts are plunging homes into darkness, wrecking appliances, sucking up household budgets and leaving neighbourhoods vulnerable to crime, say northern suburbs’ residents.

They spoke out last week about the misery they have endured, along with fellow South Africans, after the country’s power utility – crippled by R420 billion debt, poor maintenance and corruption – implemented Stage-4 load shedding, leading to two-hour-long power cuts up to three times a day.

Highbury Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association chairman Edmund Du Plooy said some residents, including himself, had been having trouble with their DStv decoders.

“In Kuils River, the lights go out almost three times a day. Our electrical appliances get spoilt, but we cannot claim back for damages,” he said.

“Some residents have an Eskom app reminding them when load shedding happens in their areas, so they will cook their food or do their laundry, but midway their lights go out and it’s different to the times on the app. We cannot rely on the app.”

Brackenfell Community Police Forum chairman Werner Victor said: “Brackenfell has a major problem with property crime. Houses are constantly broken into, and when load shedding strikes, the situation becomes more risky.”

Mr Victor encouraged residents to support their neighbourhood watches and help with patrols.

“There is safety in numbers, and our neighbourhood watches risk their lives to patrol the streets. While street lights are off, things become dangerous.”

Kwayo Louw, of Kraaifontein, said car alarms went off and dogs started barking the moment the lights went out.

“Load shedding gives thieves the opportunity to break into cars and homes, and it negatively affects the whole community. Even our people coming from work get robbed,” he said.

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) approved a 13.87% average price increase which will be implemented on April 1 for Eskom-direct customers and a 15.63% average price increase for municipalities which will be implemented on July 1.

In a statement, last week, Eskom said load shedding was necessary to prevent a total collapse of the national grid and a countrywide blackout.

Some 80% of the country’s energy demand was still being met during Stage-4 load shedding, it said.

Eskom appealed to customers to switch off geysers during the day as well as all non-essential lighting and appliances to reduce demand.

Visit www.loadshedding.eskom.co.za to view the load shedding schedule