Police fire rubber bullets as Soweto residents protest over electricity cuts
25 February 2020
Police fired rubber bullets to disperse residents of Soweto who took to the streets and barricaded parts of the busy Sofasonke Street in Orlando East to protest against electricity cuts.
It took police over an hour to disperse residents of Nomzamo Park who were planning to march to the City of Johannesburg offices in Orlando East.
Half an hour later, after negotiating with law enforcement agencies, residents then attempted to march to the municipal offices but were prevented by the police.
Police stopped them at a traffic circle and ordered them not to proceed to the office of their ward councillor Sechaba Khumalo.
Officers then fetched Khumalo so he could attend to the residents' grievances.
Residents were demanding the reconnection of electricity to their homes. They claim they have been in the dark since June last year.
"We demand our electricity back. We have been without lights for the past eight months. We are responding to a call about a shutdown. We want our councillor to explain why we don't have power in our houses," community leader SakhumziNgomfela said.
"Since last year, our councillor has not responded to our demands. We have shut down everything at Nomzamo Park and school-going children have joined us because they are also affected. They decided not to go to school because they are living in the dark too," Ngomfela said.
Khumalo briefly addressed residents saying he was aware and concerned about their demands.
He lobbied residents to attend a march on Wednesday to the Eskom offices in Diepkloof. The march will be led by Soweto ward councillors.
Earlier in the morning, a handful of protesters marched up and down Chris Hani Road in Soweto over electricity blackouts and billing processes by Eskom.
Community leader Rufus Tshoke accused Eskom of over-billing residents.
He promised that they would intensify their protests by recruiting more residents to participate in the march later in the day.