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Informal settlement near Vlakfontein vows to reconnect illegal power supply

City Power, along with Johannesburg Metro Police and the SAPS, raided the area on Wednesday and disconnected power from 30 houses which were caught selling electricity to those living in the informal settlement.

City Power officials on 3 June 2020 disconnected illegal electricity connections at Phumula Mqashi informal settlement in Vlakfontein. The officials were joined by JMPD and SAPS officers. Picture: @CityPowerJhb/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - As City Power ticks Vlakfontein off its list of places to raid, residents of Phumula Mqashi, a nearby informal settlement, said that they would reconnect their illegal power connections before the end of the day.

City Power, along with Johannesburg Metro Police and the SAPS, raided the area on Wednesday and disconnected power from 30 houses which were caught selling electricity to those living in the informal settlement.

Vlakfontein is one of the areas that contributes to the R2 billion in losses incurred by City Power due to illegal connections.

"We are going to connect again and again until we find electricity at Phumula Mqashi," one man said.

The residents of Phumula Mqashi are livid.

They have accused government of forgetting about them until election season and making no attempts to give them water and sanitation.

"The government knows that we are here. When it's time to vote, the EFF and the ANC both campaign here but when it's time to provide essential services for us, there is nobody."

City Power said that it costs R11,000 for power to be reconnected in a house found guilty of illegal connections.

But this man is hopeful that their power will be allowed back on by this evening.

"If they connect again, the police are not going to be there, even if they're there, we'll remove them and collect."

City Power said that the police and private security had been deployed in the area to help stop illegal connections.

'I MADE A MISTAKE'

A Vlakfontein woman who was caught selling electricity illegally to the nearby informal settlement is pleading with Joburg City Power to lessen the penalty she will have to pay for her power to be restored.

Roseline Tsotetsi is one of 30 residents whose power has been disconnected for facilitating illegal connections to the Phumula Mqashi squatter camp.

Her house was the first home to be approached by City Power officials when they arrived in Vlakfontein.

With tears in her eyes, she allowed the men into her yard, conceding that she was wrong for allowing illegal connections to her box.

“I know it is against the law, but I am unemployed. Nobody is going to help me financially, nobody understands the pain I am going through.”

From her single box she has been feeding power to 10 shacks in Phumula Mqashi charging R250 per shack for the month.

Now she will have to pay R11,000 to have her power restored.

“If they could give me some sort of discount because I have only done this once. I made a mistake.”

Tsotetsi said only God knew the struggles she was facing and what pushed her to being party to illegal power connections.