Residents of Mzamomhle, Gonubie, about 20km from East London, have been without electricity for two weeks and may have to wait another two months before being reconnected.
This is after a transformer exploded. Residents say they lost televisions, fridges and other appliances at the time of the explosion. Mandisa Gobongo , a resident, said the community had reported the problem to the Buffalo City Municipality. "When there is no electricity, everything stands still, because some of us do not even have money to buy gas or paraffin," said Mandisa. "Our municipality is quiet; we don't know how long it will take for us to have electricity again," she said.
A shop owner said business had slowed. "People want cold drinks and fresh meat and unfortunately I cannot provide them with that since there is no electricity and that is destroying my business," he said.
Nolizo Ziqubu, a single mother of three children, said, "I am not working and I don't have money to buy paraffin and I don't even have a primus stove – so it's really bad."
Another resident, who owns a fish and chip shop, said, "We don't just sell for the sake of selling. We are doing it so that we can feed our families, but without electricity, we cannot put anything on the table for our families. We are suffering."
Sibusiso Cindi, spokesperson for the Buffalo City Municipality said that that on 22 January a transformer blew due to illegal connections. "This transformer has not been replaced as the distribution [department] is waiting for new transformers," said Cindi.
Cindi said extensive illegal connections throughout the municipality meant a large number of transformers were needed, and it takes six to 12 weeks to deliver the transformers, even though the municipality ordered on a regular basis. The delays were due to the high turnover caused by illegal connections, he said.
"We are pleading with the community, if they could assist us by reporting people conducting illegal connections as this ultimately causes the disruptions," said Cindi.