Gauteng military base in the dark as electricity is cut due to non-payment

23 October 2020 - 16:23 By belinda pheto
Members of the SANDF. More than 150 families at the Dunnottar military base in Ekurhuleni have reportedly been without electricity for more than 15 days.
Members of the SANDF. More than 150 families at the Dunnottar military base in Ekurhuleni have reportedly been without electricity for more than 15 days.
Image: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Alet Pretorius

More than 150 families living at the Dunnottar military base in Nigel, Ekurhuleni, have been without electricity for more than 15 days, according to the defence force's trade union.

The electricity was cut off by the City of Ekurhuleni earlier this month due to non-payment by the department of public works and infrastructure, which is the custodian of the property.

A spokesperson for the City of Ekurhuleni, Themba Gadebe, confirmed the SANDF owes the municipality more than R9m and said the department of defence was in talks with the municipality to resolve the matter.

According to Gadebe, when the electricity was cut off, the defence force owed the municipality more than R13m.

“The department has already made payment to the city of more than R4.6m which leaves an outstanding amount of [about] R9.1m,” Gadebe said.

Gadebe told TimesLIVE the department of defence devolved the responsibility to pay and manage their own municipal services from the department of public works in April this year.

General secretary of the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) Pikkie Greeff told TimesLIVE that the electricity supply to the entire base, including offices, buildings and military housing, was discontinued 15 days ago by the City of Ekurhuleni, apparently due to non-payment by the department of defence and/or the department of public works.

“Our members have been unable to perform their duties because there is no power at the base. They also don’t have electricity in their homes,” Greeff said.

According to Greeff, the base is an engineering base and even its electronic security systems are compromised, but the defence department has disputed this, saying the security of the base remains intact, regardless of the electricity being cut off.

“The area with the surrounding perimeters in Dunnottar military base is secured and guarded at all time,” spokesperson Col Ronald Maseko said.

A letter from the lawyers acting on behalf of the union, dated October 22, which TimesLIVE has seen, gave the SANDF an ultimatum to have the electricity restored by close of business on Friday, or face legal action.

“It is furthermore our instruction to demand from the addressees that the relevant organs of state effect the necessary arrangements to restore electricity to the entire Dunnottar military base without further ado. Should the necessary arrangements and reconnection not occur before or on October 23 by close of business, we hold instruction to approach the high court for the necessary relief on an urgent basis,” reads the letter.

Greeff said the local command has attempted to resolve the issue with its higher structures, to no avail.

According to the union, military families pay for their service via the department of defence payroll deduction monthly

Maseko said they were aware of the situation at the base. “Engagements with the municipality are currently under way, and officials of both the SANDF and the municipality have made notable headway, hence there is progress to remedy the situation.

“To this end, a letter of commitment confirming the payment of the outstanding account will be drafted by the Defence Works Formation to Ekurhuleni Municipality accounts division,” Maseko said.

He also said they have logged a call with the department of public works to fix the backup generator.