- Two Eskom employees were held hostage by community members on Sunday for cutting power to their illegal connections
- The terrified staff were held for by Zonkizizwe community members in Ekurhleni for an hour before they escaped
- Eskom has condemned the act and said the matter is now a criminal case
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Over the past few weeks, power utility Eskom has instituted a series of disconnection to illegal connections made to power grids. This has been met with protests in some areas and on Sunday, Ekurhuleni residents took a bit a step further.
Eskom employees were on Sunday "held hostage" by community members in Zonkizizwe, Ekurhuleni and allegedly forced to unlawfully restore power supply to the area.
Eskom has been rolling out power cuts in areas with illegal connections, stating that these connections are causing a strain on the grid.
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News24 reported that Eskom Spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said on Sunday two of its technicians were kidnapped by residents and forced to restore a transformer that had been shut down owing to non-payment and illegal connections.
The technicians managed to escape safely after the ordeal that lasted more than an hour. Mantshantsha told the broadcaster that one of the technicians, who happens to live in the area, was followed home by a crowd who surrounded his house.
Briefly.co.za reported that Eskom instituted power cuts in Rabie Ridge, Midrand and surrounding areas. The power utility also placed private security dressed in casual clothing in the communities to monitor the situation.
The South African reported that Eskom plans to continue to roll out the load reduction in areas such as Soweto and Ivory Park.
Mantshantsha said this both the kidnapping and illegal connections were a criminal matter and that Eskom would be pressing charges against the community members involved in the incident.
When Eskom instituted the power cuts in Rabie Ridge, they were flanked by SANDF, JMPD and SAPS members. It is unclear why in this instance the two technicians were not accompanied by any law enforcement authorities.
The issue of illegal connections has led to conflict between disgruntled residents and law enforcement officials in other areas as well.
In early June, law enforcement authorities had to use rubber bullets to disperse residents of Phumula Mqashi informal settlement near Lenasia, who were protesting the power cuts to their illegal disconnection.
On 15 June, two security guards were shot dead in Philippi East, Cape Town, while escorting Eskom technicians out of the area.
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