Harare residents say local gangsters are forcing them to pay protection money to use electricity, while Eskom officials have refused to enter the area after receiving threats.
According to a 37-year-old community member, gangs are charging residents R30 per person, R1000 to R1500 per household, while businesses are told to pay R300 just to keep the lights on.
“The gangsters trip the boxes outside of the houses and then they charge us R30 each just to put the electricity that we already pay for back on. If you do not pay it, then you either sit in the dark or they come to hurt you,” he says.
The resident added Eskom workers have also been attacked and have since left the area, which has left them in the dark.
Some residents have been without electricity since last Friday.
“They (Eskom) were working here in the area all the time but the gangsters now chased them away, so what will happen if we have a problem now?
In a statement, Eskom said their workers were recently approached by gangsters who demanded a protection fee of R20 000 a month.
Eskom’s acting general manager, Mbulelo Yedwa, said the decision to pull the workers out of the area was made to protect their employees, while discussions are being held to help the residents.