Soweto Speaker of Parliament Nhlanhla Lux Dlamini says it is not fair that Eskom is charging a R6,500 reconnection fee from residents who are mostly unemployed and surviving on the R350 Social Emergency Assistance (SRD) grant .
Dlamini said the utility should address the plight of poor residents who cannot afford to pay exorbitant fees.
He was addressing the mayor’s office of Tuesday Johannesburg, Mpho Phalatse, with SABC, as scores of residents descended to protest poor service delivery.
Dlamini said residents are willing to pay for services only if the charges are within budget of their possibilities.
“If you are offering a business, you must understand the market you are dealing with. When the market depends on R350 to survive how do you charge them R6,000 to reconnect? That means you don’t understand your business and your market. That means there is a problem with Eskom and the government, because wherever people are not going, the government has to keep going.”
Dlamini denies that reconnection fees are being levied on residents using Eskom infrastructure manipulate to illegally connect electricity.
He said some residents had been without electricity for two years. He said they have stopped calling for services because the situation has returned to normal, which shouldn’t have happened.
Retiree Robert Nene, 69, who lives in Naledi, told TimesLIVE that he couldn’t afford the reconnect fee.
“I have children and grandchildren at home. They depend on my scholarship. It’s food, then electricity, water and everything else. Do you think you can do it with R1,900?”
Dlamini said the protest is not only in the interest of the affected residents but also for the future of their children.
“ We are not here for our own interests. As we take it to the streets, I want you to remember something: This isn’t a Facebook moment, this isn’t a WhatsApp story moment. This is a moment when we make history and liberate Soweto from the city’s conquest.”
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