Communities continue to remain in the dark as 1 135 transformers across the country are not working

Issued by Dr Mimmy Gondwe MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises
09 Apr 2024 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dr Mimmy Gondwe MP.

While thirteen days with no loadshedding is very much a welcome development, the sad reality is that there are many communities across the country that have been left in the dark because transformers in those communities are either not working or are not being replaced fast enough after they have been vandalised or damaged.

In a written reply to a DA question, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, confirmed that 1 135 transformers across the country were not working – with the hardest hit Provinces being Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape.

In the reply the Minister further states that 70% of these non-functional transformers are in the rural areas but cases on the ground paint a very different picture.

  • As of February 2024, 160 households in Dobsonville in Soweto were left without electricity since June 2023 despite paying a remedial fee to have their transformer replaced.
  • Late in 2023, 200 residents from Nelson Mandela Bay’s ward 45 protested against failure to expeditiously replace several transformers that had exploded in their area.
  • In 2023, some eMalahleni residents took to the streets after promises of a speedy restoration for a blown transformer failed to materialize.

The DA does not condone vandalism to transformers or to any electricity related infrastructure but the use of collective punishment prejudices law-abiding residents. In his reply, the Minister appears to imply that in cases where a transformer has been vandalised or damaged, affected communities have to bear the collective burden of paying ‘tamper fees’ to have it replaced.

This unfairly targets paying customers and absolves Eskom and municipalities from taking operational responsibility for the protection of transformers from damage or vandalism. Early this year, the DA revealed that between 2018 and 2023, over 44,000 cases of transformer and other electricity infrastructure theft were reported. On average, this represented 24 incidents of theft and vandalism per day over the last 5 years.

One of the reasons why the Western Cape has one of the country’s lowest levels of transformer vandalism and theft is that the DA led governments, in both spheres have taken a proactive approach to protect their electricity infrastructure and swiftly responding to acts of criminality. In 2022, the City of Cape Town announced that it will spend R40-million on securing critical electricity infrastructure via the boosting of security patrols in hotspot areas and the deployment of permanent security to protect strategic electricity infrastructure.

The ANC government appears to have lost the war against electricity infrastructure vandals and criminals. Voters now have the opportunity to turn the tide against criminality on 29 May 2024 by voting for a DA government that has proven itself where it governs that it can turn the tide against infrastructure vandalism and theft.