Soweto residents want to pay Eskom a flat rate of R150 per month for electricity and want their R18-billion debt scrapped.

Soweto residents, led by City of Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo, marched to Eskom’s offices in Diepkloof to hand over their memorandum of demands.

A community leader said Eskom must respond to their memorandum of demands within 21 days and that it should be served to Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter.

She admitted that it will be challenging for Eskom to scrap the R18-billion debt, adding that people should pay for their services.

“When we agreed to install prepaid meters, we parked the debt. We encouraged the communities to allow Eskom to install the prepaid meters and they should not bypass the meters,” she said.

Eskom cutting off Soweto residents

In February, Eskom disconnected various areas in Soweto because of non-payment, which include Mapetla, Rockville, White City, Central Western Jabavu, and Dlamini.

These disconnections formed part of a drive by Eskom to cut power to households that fail to pay their electricity bills or that have illegal connections.

There is widespread non-payment for electricity in Soweto which has seen the area’s debt to Eskom increase from R3.6 billion in 2014 to its current level of around R18 billion.

Residents did not take the disconnections lying down. There were widespread protests in Soweto and residents started to fight back against Eskom.

This fightback included residents reconnecting themselves to the grid. These illegal connections included wiring directly from streetlights and to the Eskom distribution boxes.

To ensure their illegal connections stay up, groups of residents were guarding electrical boxes to prevent Eskom employees from disconnecting them again.

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