Some Soweto residents are not paying for electricity because “they don’t allow themselves to be bullied,” according to Trevor Ngwane, a member of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee.
Ngwane made the comment during in an interview with Cape Talk‘s Refilwe Moloto on Tuesday.
Moloto had asked him why Soweto’s poor, unemployed and vulnerable people feel they don’t have to pay for electricity while others from the rest of the country do.
‘They’ve got a fighting spirit’
He replied, “It’s because they’ve got [a] fighting spirit. They know their rights. They don’t allow themselves to be bullied.”
Ngwane accused Eskom of using “bullying tactics” against poor working class communities. For instance, he claimed Eskom implements more load shedding in “low-paying areas” like Soweto.
“When a transformer has a problem, Eskom isn’t responding to call-ups on the grounds that the area is low-paying,” he added.
Asked why he used the phrase “low-paying,” he explained, “To be honest, in Soweto, more aren’t paying than those who are paying.”
The Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee has been involved in the Soweto Shutdown this week to protest against “unfair treatment” by Eskom compared to other areas like Sandton.
However, Eskom hit back on Tuesday, insisting that Soweto still owes it R18 billion despite previous agreements that the township’s residents would start paying.
It added, “We have however agreed to park the debt for those customers on split pre-paid meters on condition that they are loyal in purchasing electricity from Eskom vendors and not bypassing the meters for a period of 36 months.”
The power utility said government provisions allow indigent people to get free electricity, but this is administered by municipalities according to their own criteria.
“In the case of Soweto, the City of Johannesburg administers this process. Customers are encouraged to partake so they can benefit as this will alleviate pressure,” Eskom said.
The Soweto Shutdown has not been as widespread as had been expected. However, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and some labour unions are planning a march to Eskom on Friday against load shedding and privatisation.
To watch Cape Talk‘s interview with Trevor Ngwane on YouTube, click here.