Mense in Grabouw are tripping because they say residents of a nearby informal settlement are stealing their electricity.
Wooden poles supporting live wires leading to the Blikkiesdorp informal settlement at the edge of the town line the streets and open fields, and residents fear this might lead to fires or children shocking to death.
But the brazen kragdiewe are min gespin and have even posted warnings on poles to Eskom, threatening that they will chop the poles down if the illegal connections are cut.
To illustrate their point, a deep hole was sliced into each pole bearing the posters.
The signs read: “Warning to Eskom. If you remove these cables, we will cut all those poles. E.G.,” with an arrow pointing downwards where a cut was made in the pole.
Residents of Molefe Street in Xola Naledi, Grabouw, say they are hit hardest by the illegal connections.
“Nearly every day between 5am and 8pm, the power is off when they make their illegal connections,” one woman complains.
“I used to buy R50 electricity per week, now that lasts only two days.”
Another resident says he fears the illegal connections might lead to a fire.
“I often see blue flames coming from the pole,” he adds.
Eskom spokesperson Jolene Henn says the problem of illegal connections is an ongoing battle for the electricity supplier.
“The bare wires which are illegal are responsible for causing interruptions to legal Eskom customers elsewhere in Grabouw, and are a danger to children and members of the community,” she states.
Eskom staff working in the area also fear for their safety.
“Eskom has many times gone out into the Blikkiesdorp area to try and restore supply when there are interruptions to legal customers, however, recently members of the Blikkiesdorp community have stoned Eskom employees to prevent them from removing illegal wires and from restoring power to legal customers.
“As soon as we go into the area, even under SAPS protection, the community stones both Eskom and SAPS.”
Police spokesperson Constable Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed the incident.
“The incident occurred on 25 October at 5pm. A case of public violence was opened for investigation. No arrests have been made,” she says.
As a result, Henn says, Eskom no longer goes into Blikkiesdorp to restore power.
“Eskom needs the assistance of the community, councillors and the Municipality to perform the necessary electricity-related work in Blikkiesdorp and surrounding areas,” she says.