Thousands affected as Eskom cuts power to non-payers in Gauteng

On Thursday, Eskom cut electricity supply to Lakeside Extension 1 and 2 of Orange Farm in the Vaal Area, after local households failed to pay their bills, or refused to buy electricity tokens.

Almost 2 700 households are affected. Eskom says its increasingly disconnecting non-paying customers across Gauteng, and it will be extended to other areas.

Earlier this week, the residents of Lakeside Extension 2 violently stopped Eskom operations of conducting audits and disconnections in the area, said Motlhabane Ramashi, senior Eskom manager for maintenance and operations in Gauteng.

“Eskom employees were chased out of the area while they were busy with their duties consequently compromising their safety and the integrity of the network.”

Eskom added that Orange Farm is one of the areas that has a high rate of non-payment and non-buying of electricity.

"These measures have been put in place to ensure that the services we render are paid for by all customers, and to ascertain our sustainability as a business.”

It said the disconnection came after "extensive engagement with the affected communities requesting them to pay for the services rendered”.

On Wednesday, finance minister Tito Mboweni said that government will only assist Eskom with its R450bn debt bill if the struggling power utility makes progress in cutting costs and becoming more competitive. Treasury is demanding that Eskom recovers some of the R40bn debt it is owed by municipalities. Soweto alone accounts for almost half the amount.