Government condemns violent Soweto protests over electricity

10 June 2021 - 13:08
Residents of Nomzamo, in Soweto, gather in protest. File photo.
Residents of Nomzamo, in Soweto, gather in protest. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell

The government has criticised Soweto residents for embarking on violent protests over electricity.

This week has been marred by protests in the country's biggest township over debt owed to Eskom.

Large sections of the township owe Eskom billions of rand for electricity.

Residents want to pay a flat monthly rate of R150 for electricity and their protest culminated in a march to Eskom's headquarters, Megawatt Park. 

Residents also want the reconnection of electricity in parts of the township which have been experiencing blackouts for close to a year.

Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said on Thursday that protests should be carried out within the confines of the law.

“Cabinet condemns the recent violent protests in Soweto that resulted in the shutdown of the community and appeals to protesters to exercise calm and restraint.

“Although the right to peaceful protest is a vital part of a democratic society, it should be exercised within the confines of the law and not infringe on the rights of others.

“Government is committed to working with communities across the country to improve their living conditions,” said Ntshavheni.

The Soweto protest comes as the country is experiencing rolling blackouts due to breakdowns experienced by Eskom.

Eskom is implementing stage 3 load-shedding until 10pm on Thursday. The power utility imposed stage 4 load-shedding on Wednesday.

“Cabinet recognises the frustration of South Africans with the continuing power outages due to failures in the Eskom infrastructure electricity networks.

“Cabinet remains committed to the implementation of the Integrated Resource Plan 2030, which is based on a diversified energy mix that will reduce reliance on a single or a few primary energy sources,” said Ntshavheni.

She however did not announce any urgent interventions at Eskom.

“The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme has also opened Bid Window 5 to procure 2,600 megawatts of wind and solar power to support the national grid.

“The electricity regulation reforms have also enabled municipalities with the capacity to purchase their own power from other alternative power producers. This will alleviate pressure from the Eskom power grid,” she said.

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