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Soweto residents' electricity bill surpasses R18 billion

In just six months, Soweto residents' debt increased by more than a R1 billion, pushing the bill to R18 billion.

FILE: Picture: Pixabay.com.

JOHANNESBURG – Eskom said Soweto residents now owe the utility more than R18 billion in unpaid electricity bills.

The cash-strapped parastatal has told Eyewitness News the township's debt increased by R3 billion over a period of just 12 months from March last year.

In just six months, Soweto residents' debt increased by more than a R1 billion, pushing the bill to R18 billion.

But Eskom senior operations manager Daphne Mokwena said the largest amount of debt was accumulated interest to be paid for the years of outstanding bills as the capital debt only grew by R500 million in the past financial year.

Mokwena said installing prepaid electricity meters in homes forced users to pay up.

“We’re still battling a bit; if customers aren’t paying, there’s interest and obviously that ups the amount a little bit.”

Eskom's new target was to install more than 26,000 pre-paid electricity meters in the township by the end of March next year.

WATCH: War between Eskom and Soweto residents continues

RAMAPHOSA'S BIG ESKOM PLAN AND ITS BIG PRICE TAG

Eskom was set to receive further funding from the government through an urgent Special Appropriation Bill that would be tabled in Parliament. The bill was expected "to allocate a significant portion of the R230 billion fiscal support that Eskom will require over the next 10 years in the early years".

President Cyril Ramaphosa said this plan was in line with the recommendations of both the Eskom Sustainability Task Team and the Technical Review Team, which were appointed by the government to assist the debt-laden power producer.

The severity of the problems at Eskom was highlighted by the president.

In his budget speech in February, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that Eskom would be allocated a R69 billion financial support package over the next three years by National Treasury to help it service its debts.

However, Mboweni made sure to clarify that the package wasn’t a bailout from the government.

Ramaphosa said this committed funding ensured that Eskom had sufficient cash to meet its obligations until the end of October 2019. He said Mboweni would further elaborate on the details of the Special Appropriation Bill in due course.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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