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JHB: Power out as cold front moves in

As a cold front sweeps through Gauteng, some Joburg residents have been without power for 24 hours.

As a cold front sweeps through Gauteng, some Joburg residents have been without power for 24 hours. Picture: Ryan Wynn

JOHANNESBURG - As a cold front sweeps through Gauteng, with temperatures dropping below zero, some residents in Johannesburg are angry they haven't had power for more than 24 hours.

Several suburbs in the north and south of the city are affected, including Eldorado Park, Freedom Park, Lenasia, Craighall Park, the Johannesburg CBD, as well as parts of Pretoria.

One resident says he's frustrated.

"We don't have power. We have not had power since yesterday. When you try to report it, you get the same recorded message saying they're experiencing a high call volume and you can never get to speak to anyone."

City Power's Louis Pieterse says the outages are due to cable theft and technicians are working on the problem.

"Yesterday afternoon, two of our transmission line pylons collapsed due to theft. Nowadays there's a tendency of stealing the steel across these pylons."

But even as some Gauteng residents struggle with electricity problems, Eskom says it will be able to prevent load shedding this winter due to maintenance that's happened since January.

However, the system will remain strained due to a limited generating capacity, which can only be resolved when new power stations are completed.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says South Africans must assist Eskom in trying to keep the lights on.

"We will keep the country updated on a daily basis, on the state of the system. And when we ask that you assist by switching off nonessentials, we request that you respond accordingly. That way, we can keep the lights on."

But he says South Africans will have to use power sparingly, even when temperatures are very low, because the system remains strained.

Generating capacity has been a challenge for Eskom for several years and it's hoped it will improve once the Medupi and Kusile power stations come online.

Matjila says this winter will be similar to last year's so they are not expecting anything out of the ordinary.

"From information received from the weather experts, this winter is likely to be more or less the same as the last winter. But winter is also a subjective issue. As soon as it gets to winter, we tend to want to use more appliances to heat our homes."

Meanwhile, the South Africa Weather Service has issued a warning for people to be prepared for very cold conditions throughout the weekend in large parts of the country.

Forecaster Ezekiel Sebego says, "A cold front moved over Gauteng during Thursday afternoon and as a result of that, we've woken up to very cold and windy conditions.

EMS STEPS UP SAFETY CAMPAIGN

At the same time, Emergency Management Services (EMS) say they will be on alert, especially in informal settlements, which are considered high risk areas.

Earlier this week, five family members including three children were burnt to death in their shack in Vlakfontein.

It's believed a heater that was left unattended caused the blaze.

EMS is also upping its door-to-door safety campaign.

The service's Robert Mulaudzi says residents, especially those in informal settlements, must be careful when using paraffin stoves and other flammable heaters.

"We want to advise them to look after all appliances, most importantly the heaters. They must make sure that those heaters are supervised when in use."

At the same time the transport minister has urged motorists to drive with extra caution, as the winter weather poses extra risks on the roads.

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