Johannesburg – Foreign nationals have made their homes in ageing City Power substations, despite the danger they pose.
The power utility company has over 18 000 transformer chambers across the City of Joburg, however, they are being phased out because most of them are too old.
Nonetheless, foreign nationals have pounced on them and turned them into homes, with furniture that includes chest freezers, beds, wardrobes and stoves.
Mayco member for environment and infrastructure services Mpho Moerane’s recent clean-up operation in the city uncovered a mother and her four children occupying a transformer substation in Randburg.
The family, believed to be from Zimbabwe, had occupied an 11kV transformer substation chamber.
The mother pleaded poverty to the MMC, claiming that she was unemployed and struggling to make ends meet.
Moerane warned of the dangers posed by an increase in the hijacking and occupation of electricity transformer substation chambers across the city.
“Already, three people were found electrocuted after being found staying in the chambers, with at least two of them coming from the Hursthill area, which includes Westbury.”
Moerane linked the problem with homelessness, stating it might have been caused by the declining economy.
“The problem of homelessness is big in the City of Joburg because of economic opportunities available. While the situation we found is a sad one, it’s a very dangerous one and there are even children involved.”
Moerane said the biggest concern was the illegality of occupying the chambers and vandalism that occurred when people did so, which was why they opted to evict the family.
He said he was engaging with the Social Development Department and other authorities to assist the family, and provide them with a home and meet their other social needs.
The MMC also sent a stern warning to businesses using illegal electricity connections. He stated that the Department of Home Affairs would be roped in to check the legality of some of the businesses.
“Several businesses were found with the illegal connection of electricity, with a furniture shop and upholstery business closed for trading illegally.”
Moerane emphasised that the city needed to collect revenue from registered businesses.
“It’s simple, businesses can afford to pay for services, and they need to come on board and assist the city in revenue collection.
“If they don’t pay for services, we will come to them and assist them in ensuring they pay,” he said.