The battle between Residents of Orlando and Eskom heated up

Burning Tires and rocks block roads in Orlando East

Residents of Orlando East together with their councillors embarked on a peaceful march to Eskom offices in Diepkloof on the 22nd of September morning.

The march which was supported by the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) was aimed at raising issues pertaining to the introduction of prepaid electricity in the area.March-1-Medium

The main purpose of this march was to raise the issues that Eskom needed to give residents the choice between prepaid and conventional electricity and there were  claims that Eskom has converted some residents houses from conventional to prepaid electricity without the residents’ knowledge. 

Yesterday Community leaders in Orlando East appealed to residents to remain calm and refrain from engaging in violent protest action.

The call follows Monday’s mayhem where residents barricaded many roads in the area with burning tyres and rocks. They are protesting against power cuts which are due to the introduction of prepaid electricity in the area. Power utility Eskom is being accused by residents of installing prepaid metres without consulting them.

Eskom was also being accused of converting everyone to prepaid without giving them a chance to choose between prepaid and conventional yet again.

The Orlando Task Team (OTT) has been at the forefront of the protests since late last month with its members taking prepaid meters to the police station and burning them in front of the police. Police had to be called to disperse the crowd with rubber bullets.

Ward 30 councilor Sechaba Khumalo said, “The collective leadership has agreed to escalate the matter to the upper structures of the ANC and government. We support peaceful action but not the use of violence, we request the community to remain calm.”

Khumalo’s utterances follow Monday’s protest action. He himself confirmed that he spent the night in the dark due to Eskom cutting power supply in his house without warning.

Democratic Alliance(DA) Member of Parliament Tsepo Mhlongo who is also a resident of Orlando East joined Khumalo in condemning violent protest action.

“I support protest that is peaceful and within the law. The destruction of property during demonstrations in Orlando is irrational and outright stupid. I condemn violence in the strongest possible terms,” said Mhlongo.

Problems relating to the introduction of prepaid electricity are set to continue in Orlando East as Eskom is not showing any signs of backing down on the matter.

In a written response to last week’s march to its Diepkloof Offices, Eskom has disputed claims that some customers have been switched off.

The statement read, “Eskom is currently converting customers to prepaid electricity supply and no customers are switched off.
“During conversion, each customer receives 200 kWh free units and when these units are consumed, it remains the customer’s responsibility to procure units and reload the metre. Eskom cannot convert metres to free mode as it is expected that customers pay for their consumption.”

Also Read : Orlando residents accuse Eskom of dividing them!

Mzwandile Khathi

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