City was warned electricity problem could be fatal, says father of electrocuted couple

16 June 2021 - 14:05 By shonisani tshikalange
It is suspected a Johannesburg couple were electrocuted when they turned on the shower in their home. Stock photo.
It is suspected a Johannesburg couple were electrocuted when they turned on the shower in their home. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Jevgenij Avin

The family of Zaheer Sarang and Nabeelah Khan, who were electrocuted in their home at the weekend, says the City of Johannesburg was warned about the problem before the couple’s death.

Gauteng police confirmed their bodies were found in their Crosby home on Sunday afternoon.

Spokesperson Capt Mavela Masondo said they were found in the shower.

“It is suspected the couple were electrocuted. Police are waiting for the postmortem results to confirm the cause of death,” he said.

Zaheer’s father, Yusuf Sarang, told TimesLIVE he had previously complained about electricity-related incidents in the home, but said he never received a formal response.

“Kindly assist please.  I have a major problem at my house. I cannot touch my taps. There’s a power surge that goes through your body. This could result in death or my house burning down,” read his e-mail to Joburg Connect on June 7.

Joburg Connect is a contact point to report issues to municipal authorities.

Seen by TimesLIVE, his first e-mail was sent on June 7. He said he received an automated reply that his call had been lodged.

The initial complaint was followed by other complaints through e-mail and WhatsApp messages to the ward councillor, which were sent by his wife. TimesLIVE was shown some of the messages.

I warned them that until I lose a life, you guys are not going to help me. And that is exactly what happened,
Yusuf Sarang, father of the man electrocuted in his Johannesburg home

Yusuf said the minute he touched taps in the home, he received a shock. He owns the house in which he daughter and son-in-law were staying.

“I warned them that until I lose a life, you guys are not going to help me. And that is exactly what happened,” he told TimesLIVE.

Alex Christians, councillor for Johannesburg’s ward 58, said City Power was alerted on June 5 that residents in four streets in the area were reporting being  shocked in their homes.

“I did this after Mrs Sarang called me and I asked her to log it with City Power (CP) so they have a record of it. On June 6 I received the reference number, which I again sent to the CP councillor escalation group as 24-hours had passed and no-one had been there to attend to the problem,” he said.

Christians said in total, six follow-ups were made with little to no response from City Power.

“I also started including the MMC [member of the mayoral committee] and his office in  the escalations. The day I was alerted to the death of the young couple I made them all aware again, and no response. The only response I got from the MMC was on Monday afternoon f stating it is being investigated.

“I have been to the family and passed on my condolences . As of yesterday, when I was with the dad, the city is yet to contact them to pass on condolences,” Christians said.

He said they, together with the family, were considering pursuing further action. 

Yusuf said there was no verbal communication received responding to his complaints.

“I have a trail of e-mails going back about two weeks, maybe even more, of me complaining. I have been complaining and my neighbours have escalated it and there is absolutely nothing. I have e-mails to prove I reported the case on several occasions,” he said.

Yusuf said he discovered the bodies of the newlyweds on Sunday after he entered the house through a window.

When I entered the premises I had to go through a window and discovered their bodies lying on the floor in the bathroom
Yusuf Sarang

“They came back from a week’s honeymoon. They came back on Saturday evening and went into their living quarters behind my house. On Sunday I suspected something was very wrong because there was no movement coming from the house. When I entered the premises I had to go through a window and discovered their bodies lying on the floor in the bathroom,” he said.

He said there were no words to describe how he felt.

“Why are we paying all these exorbitant rates and taxes for officials to loot the money? I am living in Johannesburg, I am paying my rent and taxes, and getting no joy. What is the sense? It’s sad. It’s like in SA if you don’t experience something like this you are not part of the country,” he said.

City Power said it could not declare the premises of the electrocuted couple safe on Monday.

“Unfortunately, we couldn't declare the premises safe yesterday [Monday] when we visited as there was a burial for the couple,” said City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena.

He said City Power would have to run tests to determine the source of the problem. 

“We are in the area currently and will go to the premises where the incident happened to do the necessary tests. The fault could be in the customer’s premises so we need to get inside to test. It could also be on our network, which we are testing,” he said.

Mangena said City Power is aware of the problem of illegal connections in the area, which in earlier reports was identified as one of the possible causes for residents' experiences.

“We conducted several operations to remove illegal connections with the last one on April 13 2021. We have planned to conduct another one two months after, which is mid-June” he said.

City Power has encouraged customers to test regularly their earth leakage devices.

TimesLIVE


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