South Africa: Power Failure – Dozens of Soweto Homes in the Dark for Nine Months

Fifty-two homes in Chiawelo, Soweto, have endured anguish and misery for nine months without electricity. Eskom says the lengthy power outage was caused by damage to infrastructure and illegal connections.

The last time lighting up a room was as easy as flipping a switch was on 17 June 2020. Since then, families of the Chiawelo, Soweto, community have been without electricity.

“Life came to a standstill,” said 56-year-old Emmanuel Baloyi of the beginning of nine months without power. Four months later, in October 2020, Baloyi’s diabetic brother died. The disease had ravaged Baloyi’s brother to the point where he required amputation.

Damage to Eskom infrastructure in Chiawelo, Soweto has cost a community of 52 homes in the area nine months without power. (Photo: Bheki Simelane)

“We actually didn’t expect he would die when he did,” said a neighbour, 61-year-old Martha Ntsanwisa, who has lived in the area since 1963. “We were very concerned about his health over the winter period. He survived that, only to die in October.”

Baloyi said his brother’s diabetes medication required cold storage, but without electricity, it was taken as it was. The brother also needed to be kept warm, which proved impossible.

“I strongly believe…

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