While darkness reigns during Eskom’s rolling blackouts, criminals are on the prowl in Cape Town communities. Residents say attacks increase when the power is cut.
Not only do outages prevent detection but they also allow for a quicker getaway.
Being left without lights and warmth during winter, amid a third wave of COVID-19, is hard enough as it is, but some Cape Town communities say what makes it even tougher, is that criminals are terrorising them, using the cover of darkness.
Last weekend, a 79-year-old granny from Khayelitsha had her home broken into in the dead of night.
She was attacked and set alight.
Her family says it happened during Eskom’s latest bout of rolling blackouts.
In Bonteheuwel, residents say the dark gives the criminals power.
“So it’s cable theft, it shootings, theft in general. They just stole my daughter’s bike the other day during load-shedding. It is just negative, there is no positive to load-shedding at all,” says Holly Solomons, Bonteheuwel resident.
The community says poorer families are seeking alternatives to electricity by making fires, but this is dangerous.
Many have lost their homes and their few possessions to the flames.
“How are we going to survive this third wave if there is so much loadshedding? Even a baby died. And elders die because people start using candles, people start making gallies. When is all this going to end? We are all in the dark in this community,” says Elizabeth Lingeveldt, backyard dwellers chair.
They were hoping to get answers from their ward councillor.
The problem, though, lies with the country’s power utility.
“We have consistently spoken to Eskom to say keep the lights on in places like Bonteheuwel because we have a crime problem and because we have a gangsterism problem,” says Angus McKenzie, Bonteheuwel ward councillor.
What’s compounding it all, is the cable theft that happens during power outages.
“We have literally swapped gang murders for cable theft You have trenches being dug across our railway lines,” says MacKenzie.
And those working from home are losing money when Eskom cuts the electricity.
They’re left feeling powerless, in more ways than one.
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