City Power abandons mission to cut power in hijacked buildings

Officials from Joburg City Power had to abandon their mission to cut off power to hijacked buildings in and around Jeppestown on Wednesday. 

This was due to safety concerns after only one building out of four was cut off.

The police advised after a risk assessment that the operation be deferred to another date due to lack of sufficient personnel to quell tensions brewing in the area.

In a statement, the city said residents of two of the hijacked buildings along Betty Street revolted against the City Power revenue protection team.

“We value the safety of our employees and everybody who was part of the operation,” said City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava.

“When it became clear that tensions were high and the lives of team members were threatened, we advised that the operation be temporarily halted.”

Mashava said the team had to pull out as a safety precaution.

“We agreed with law-enforcement agencies that we should return with a beefed up police force equipped to handle crowd control situations.

“As City Power, we have a list of hijacked buildings that we are targeting and we are going to visit [them] in the coming weeks to remove our electricity infrastructure.”

Mashava said the hijacked buildings not only inconvenience businesses in the area and cost City Power millions of rands in stolen electricity, but also pose a danger to residents.

The operation aimed to disconnect four hijacked buildings – three in Jeppestown and one in Doornfontein – which collectively owe City Power about R20-million.

Currently, the city is owed R10-billion by defaulting customers across the city. The operation sought to address the issue and curb the culture of non-payment. 

Meanwhile, Mashava has condemned threats by residents directed at journalists who covered the operation in Jeppestown, saying some were pepper sprayed. 

The operation came after Usindiso Building, which was initially meant to shelter abused women and children, caught fire in August leaving over 70 people dead.

Scores others were admitted to the hospital while the survivors were accommodated in various shelters across the city.

The hijacked building was home to more than 200 families at the time of the blaze.


Follow @SundayWorldZA on Twitter and @sundayworldza on Instagram, or like our Facebook Page, Sunday World, by clicking here for the latest breaking news in South Africa. 

Latest News