R350 grant beneficiaries can’t be expected to afford electricity reconnection fee: Nhlanhla Lux
Soweto parliament leader Nhlanhla Lux Dlamini says it is not fair that Eskom demands a R6,500 reconnection fee from residents who are mostly unemployed and survive on the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant.
Dlamini said the power utility should be sensitive to the plight of poor residents who can’t afford to pay exorbitant rates.
He was speaking to the SABC outside Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse’s office on Tuesday when scores of residents descended to protest about poor service delivery.
Dlamini said residents were willing to pay for services only if the charges are within their means.
“If you are providing a business, you must understand the market you are dealing with. If the market depends on R350 to survive, how do you charge them R6,000 for reconnection? That means you don’t understand your business and your market. That means there is a problem in Eskom and government because wherever the people can’t get to, the government must continue.”
Dlamini denied reconnection fees are required from residents who tamper with Eskom infrastructure to illegally connect electricity.
He said some residents had been without electricity for two years. He said they had stopped demanding services because the situation is normalised, which should not be the case.
Pensioner Robert Nene, 69, who lives in Naledi, told TimesLIVE he can’t afford the reconnection fee.
“I have kids and grandchildren at the house. They rely on my grant money. It is food, then electricity, water and everything else. Do you think you can make it on R1,900?”
Dlamini said the protest was not only in the interests of affected residents but the future of their children as well.
“We are not here for our own interests. When we take it to the streets, I want you to remember something: this is not a Facebook moment, this is not a WhatsApp story moment. This is a moment where we make history and free Soweto from the capture of the city.”
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