After days of rioting that culminated in R35 million in damage, electricity problems in Tembisa community will soon end, Ekurhuleni Mayor Tanya Campbell promised residents yesterday.

It is believed that four people died at the hands of security forces, and municipal infrastructure was also damaged. The public was outraged by high electricity rates and lack of services. They also called for the return of the free 100kW policy.

Campbell met with residents at Mehlareng Stadium to address their concerns and made a number of promises. She noted that the metro will provide residents with a 50% write-off of debt for more than one year on the date of application approval, which will include fares, service charges, interest and other costs. It will be available to qualified applicants until March 31, 2023, Campbell said.

ALSO READ: ‘We shouldn’t frown on protests, but don’t burn things’ – Tembisa shutdown mail

“Many of you have highlighted the issue of historic debt and incorrect billing that has been looming over you and your families. This needs to be fixed immediately.

“We want to assure you that the issue of the inaccurate billing system is being resolved. We will also ensure that bills for water, sewerage, rates and taxes are separated from electricity bills,” she said.

Campbell assured the community that the municipality is in the process of revising its indigent policy [this is aimed at including those currently excluded from access to basic services, through the provision of a social safety net] provide assistance to all residents who are eligible for the subsidy.

“We have decided to stop any shutdowns and denials of indigent applications for the next 90 days. “All residents who qualify for the indigent policy will be assisted,” Campbell said.

“We will be running a fortnightly open day with the Departments of Finance, Health and Social Development to help all residents with low-income claims.

“We will be rolling out an SMS system to notify all residents of their outstanding bills, meaning residents will no longer be charged for the administration and delivery of disconnection letters.”

On the provision of free 100 KW, she said that the Metro will continue to provide 50 KW free of cost.

“The 100 kW free base units are outside of our limits as a municipality, so we are engaging with the provincial and national government to find a solution,” she said.

Community member Dora Mtshanea said they want a flat rate and also want the municipality to allow them to buy power directly from Eskom.

“There is a middleman before we get to Eskom, so we want to buy directly from Eskom because it is cheaper. “We also want every house to pay Rs 500 for water.”

PHOTO: Fierce protests in Tembisa will cost millions in damages

Another resident said that if the mayor had come to them last Friday, as the community requested, the protest would not have turned violent.

“People got angry because of that, so they burned things. I think burning things was purely a political thing.

“They just saw an opportunity to strike. I don’t think that burning or destroying them tomorrow will help.”

Tembisa Community Forum spokesperson Xolani Mnisi praised Campbell’s intervention, saying she had addressed important issues.

“The resignation letters that came with the 180 rand payment will no longer be on the agenda. Electricity will be decoupled from rates, taxes and water, so if someone can’t afford to pay, they won’t be cut off from access to electricity,” he said.

“Revising the indigent policy is something we know can be done in a day.”

– lungam@citizen.co.za

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