Kwazulu-Natal consumers fed up with Eskom’s “looting, corruption and mismanagement” have resorted to stealing electricity as they cannot afford to pay the parastatal’s spiralling electricity tariffs.
This was the word of several community organisation leaders to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) which embarked on the provincial leg of its roadshow to engage with consumers after Eskom resubmitted its application for its Multi-Year Price Determination for the 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years.
Eskom general manager Hasha Tlhotlhalemaje told the Gauteng leg of the roadshow on Tuesday that the application had been remitted again following a Pretoria High Court ruling in its favour in July which allowed it to recoup R69 billion in revenue that NERSA had earlier disallowed.
Sikwenzeleni Community Project representative Bongani Mthembu lambasted Eskom for the “large-scale looting” of the parastatal’s resources.
“People die due to illegal connections. There is a loss of dignity due to no connection to electricity. If you are a household with no electricity you are seen as if there is something not right with you,” he said. Mthembu said it appeared Eskom was intent on “milking” consumers through electricity price hikes but this was not sustainable.
“There is large-scale looting at Eskom which has put all of us in this predicament. This looting has now involved people who steal electricity because the rich do it with impunity,” he said.
Dumisani Mvuyane, who told NERSA he represented people living with cancer and other terminal illnesses, said they struggled without electricity as they needed to keep their medication refrigerated.
He said SMMES had been forced to steal electricity because they could not afford the high tariffs.
He said consumers were also “distressed” by electricity billing problems and highlighted the plight of a consumers who had received bills of more than R23 000 and R10 600.
“This clearly shows that Eskom and the municipality are not doing what they are supposed to do. Municipalities are a big part of what communities are facing; they put a mark-up and do not make proper billing, they estimate.” South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) co-ordinator Desmond D’Sa criticised Eskom’s former executives for state capture and for “getting huge bonuses while workers were losing their jobs”.
“Tell Eskom they must move to a just transition where energy becomes cheaper and they provide electricity to the poor and take people off the grid. We need to get rid of those top managers who have huge fantastic salaries and get people with heart and soul who will work for the people,” he said.
Ubunye Bama Hostela representative Mvuso Ntombel said people were “sick and tired” of Eskom. He said poor people which included people of “all races” were forced to source electricity from Eskom while the rich had options.
NERSA full-time member for electricity Nhlanhla Gumede urged the public to send further comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared in The Mercury on 19/11/2020