- The Soweto Shutdown began on Tuesday morning as frustrated residents took to the streets
- Despite a slow start to the protest action, law enforcement officials have been deployed to the scene
- The unrest comes after Eskom clamped down on non-paying residents in the face of an immense debt owed by Soweto to the power-utility
The Soweto Shutdown has begun, with the frustrated community protesting against Eskom's power-cut strategy.
The South African reports that the protest has had a slow start despite threats of barricaded roads in an attempt to shut down the densely-populated area.
Law enforcement is on the ground and maintaining a strong presence with sporadic disruptions reported during the morning rush.
The protests are expected to continue on Wednesday when Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is expected to deliver his 2020 Budget Speech.
Eskom has been taking no prisoners when it comes to debt-collecting in the region. The collective debt owed to the power utility is over R18 billion.
Briefly.co.za reported that Soweto residents had called for a lower rate, much to the dismay of all other citizens who fork over the normal rate.
Many applauded Eskom for cutting off supplies to the region, arguing that poor citizens still forked over the standard price for power without going to such extreme lengths.
Nevertheless, the community argues that the ANC government has betrayed promises handed down at the inception of democracy.
However, President Cyril Ramaphosa himself has made it clear that no special treatment will be approved:
“If public utilities like Eskom are to survive, then all users need to pay for the services they receive.”
A large percentage of Soweto relies on illegal electrical connections, prompting Eskom to push for the installation of prepaid meters.
Residents have not taken kindly to this initiative, meeting it with fierce resistance, often aimed at Eskom staff.
Thami Hukwe, an organiser of the protests and a Johannesburg Housing Crisis Committee member, commented:
“We want the state to immediately respond to the demands that have been made by our communities for a very long time.”
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