Cape Town – Continued vandalism of network infrastructure is at the centre of Wesbank residents’ woes who have been protesting for days after being left in the dark for nearly a week.
The community has been without electricity since Friday, but despite Eskom’s efforts to return supply to the area, continued vandalism and theft were foiling these efforts.
On Tuesday, ward councillor Ebrahim Sawant met with the community to address the issues following the protests.
Ten people aged between 16 and 32 are set to appear in the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court facing charges of public violence during the unrest.
Sawant said while the community remains frustrated and volatile, they will be engaging authorities to “deal harshly with the criminal element”.
“We are encouraged by the community coming forward to have at least two perpetrators caught for cable theft and vandalism after they were caught with cables in their possession. At the end of the day, it is the community that suffers and the after effects of these protests are far-reaching.
“Emergency services couldn’t enter the area (on Monday) which, according to information received, resulted in the death of an elderly man and a baby who needed medical assistance,” said Sawant.
On Tuesday Eskom said the community was without electricity yet again due to the vandalism of network infrastructure just hours after repairing a vandalised cable to restore electricity to the area.
“Electricity supply to customers was restored at approximately 11pm on Monday evening after operators repaired a cable on the Saxdown Overhead 3 that was vandalised and left the Wesbank community without electricity. Operators (were on site yesterday) doing repairs. Due to the extent of the damage, however, the estimated time for restoration has not yet been established.’’
General Manager for Eskom Distribution in the Western and Eastern Cape Cluster Alwie Lester said theft and vandalism is the dominant cause of unplanned outages and interruptions.
’’Eskom is not in a position to continually replace stolen and vandalised equipment across the province and in particular in the metro area. We call upon communities to please safeguard this infrastructure and report any incident or individual who is involved in this theft and vandalism. This debilitates our service provision to communities.”
Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said police and law enforcement would remain in the area to monitor the situation.
“On Monday, about 2000 people marched on the R300, burning tyres and throwing rubble in the road … Cases of malicious damage to property and public violence were registered for investigation. Public Order Police took action to disperse the crowd.”
Police also registered a case of public violence after protests erupted on Sunday night. No arrests were made on Sunday.
Eskom has appealed to residents to report any criminal activity around its infrastructure to report it to SAPS or Eskom Toll-Free Crime Hotline 0800 11 27 22.