Report 'izinyoka-nyoka', Ramaphosa urges community during imbizo
President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged residents of Sedibeng in Gauteng to speak up against illegal electricity connections that plunge communities into darkness.
“Where does the problem start? It starts with us as members of the community. We want to cut corners by allowing these people to illegally connect us and we think that we will benefit and then everybody gets disconnected,” Ramaphosa said at the fourth instalment of the presidential imbizo at the Sharpeville cricket pitch on Friday.
Cabinet ministers present included police minister Bheki Cele, human settlements minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu, health minister Joe Phaahla, home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan. Eskom CEO André de Ruyter was also in attendance.
Ramaphosa said: “Even in the township where I grew up (Chiawelo), there was a blackout and we found that the blackout was not caused by Eskom but by illegal connections.”
He added: “Eskom installs transformers and then we in the community know that there are people who do illegal connections, they are called zinyoka-nyoka ... Some of them even come to us members of the community and tell us that they are clever, 'we will connect you to Eskom and you don’t have to be billed.'”
Ramaphosa said in some places he had heard that those responsible for this were Eskom employees looking for a quick buck.
“You as members of the community want something cheap and don’t want to pay and then think this clever guy will connect you to the electricity system ...”
This results in the transformers being overloaded and exploding, said Ramaphosa.
“It then disconnects thousands of households and it just becomes dark and then we are the ones that go back and blame Eskom. We then say Eskom is switching us off and then Eskom goes and gets another transformer and install it.
“Eskom brings another one and the community gets angry. In the end these transformers have to be imported and when we keep installing we end up running short of transformers and then there is darkness and then we blame Eskom.”
Public enterprise minister Pravin Gordhan urged communities to protect electricity infrastructure.
“In Evaton we have a serious problem. We have too many transformers there that are being damaged. Transformers explode because there are illegal connections and more power is being taken from the transformer than it has the capacity for,” said Gordhan.
He appealed to the community to “not allow people to steal transformers and damage substations”.
He added that Emfuleni municipality owed Eskom R5bn and that needed to be resolved.
Sixty-one-year-old Sekgola Lepota from phase 1 in Tshepiso told Ramaphosa he was struggling to find employment.
“I have no food in the house, the wife almost left me. Mr President. I am not angry with you, I am pleading that you make a plan for senior citizens who are qualified because we are going to impart the skills that we have learnt and pass it on to the youth. I am asking for a job sir.”
A bit of commotion inside after basic education minister Angie Motsekga said she will not allow school going kids to raise their concerns. They were asjed why they are not at school. The situation is calm though. @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/QNGMxD1g2c— Amanda Khoza - The Journalist (@MandaKhoza) August 12, 2022
Speaking on behalf of people living with disabilities in the district, Midvaal resident Sicelo Nkosi told Ramaphosa that access to adequate housing was difficult for them.
“Living with disabilities is a very expensive lifestyle ... I have a house because I have to fight for it. I am talking about people from Emfuleni that are crying when we go and discuss with them.”
Nkosi said the government focused on empowering youth and women but “what about disabled people?”
Elderly businesswoman Fakazile Eunice Mothamabo pleaded with education Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi to assist the community with scholar transport.
“We are hurt, I have not been working since April. I have 10 buses sitting there, they are roadworthy. We are tired as taxpayers. Our children are being picked up by caskets (unroadworthy vehicles). What have we done Panyaza?”
A group of school pupils from Botebo-Tsebo Secondary School, who were prevented from addressing the gathering, claimed to have missed school on Friday because of a water outage in the area The group said it had valid concerns to raise with Ramaphosa and the ministers.
Grade 12 pupil Bongani Ntshumayelo said they wanted to tell Ramaphosa about issues affecting their school.
“I wanted to tell the president that we have had an issue with electricity at school. It was switched off when there was a shutdown in the area last June.”
Grade 11 pupil Musa Lelosa said: “Since we had no electricity, we have experienced multiple break-ins at the school, including vandalism of our generator.”
Other community members raised concerns about crime as a result of an influx of foreign nationals, housing, unemployment, sewage spillage and the collection of refuse.
Ramaphosa told them that responsible ministers will follow up on the matters raised.
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