#LiveWireSA Electricity crisis in Freedom Park

A broken transformer with a generator next to it.

A broken transformer with a generator next to it.

Residents of Freedom Park, south of Soweto are affected in different ways by the same thing, electricity supply in the Township. Some of the residents have had their electrical appliances damaged due to the fluctuating power levels in the outlets inside their homes. Power utility, City Power requests proof of purchase when such incidents occur. Most of the people usually do away with their receipts after their warranty period expires while the appliances still function properly and one elderly lady alleged that she did provide proof of purchase but was neither reimbursed or had her appliances replaced.

A diesel engine generator serving as a replacement to the broken transformer.

A diesel engine generator serving as a replacement to the broken transformer.

The second biggest issue is consistency, random homes in the neighborhood just go dark without prior warning. One way they can tell if electricity supply is about to be cut if the power supply in the home starts going faint, that is usually followed by a current of heavy voltage that damages appliances. There is a line that they can call to report power outages. After calling, one receives a reference number to quote for the technician when he or she arrives. As is the case with others, a resident received an SMS notifying him that the status on the job allocated to his reference number was updated "completed" but no one showed up and the family is still in the dark several days later. Community members suspect that the vans are chased away by people belonging to the former political regime within the ward to discredit the current one.  

An inactive power cord dangling close to the ground.

An inactive power cord dangling close to the ground.

Another long standing problem is that power supply is managed on an ad hoc basis. When it rains, especially with lightning and thunder, the whole township falls in to darkness. At first they thought that it was because was because of the weakness in the infrastructure but learned at a later stage that it gets switched off so that it does not do community wide damage. When transformers catch fire, they are usually replaced with diesel engine generators that are infamous for making noise on a 24 hour basis. The community members say that at some point, the generator literally in every street. After one particular politically led march, the generators were gone the very next day. the general assumption within the community is that someone was benefiting from having all these generators leased to the power utility. It is also alleged that there would be people showing up with their cars to fill the tanks up when the generators were being refueled. Some generators are still present in areas where transformers haven't been replaced yet.