Big guns called in as City Power disconnects electricity in Joburg’s hijacked buildings

Big guns called in as City Power disconnects electricity in Joburg's hijacked buildings
Big guns called in as City Power disconnects electricity in Joburg's hijacked buildings

Africa-Press – South-Africa. A seven-year-old boy returning from school was shocked when he was greeted by police carrying R5 rifles standing outside his home in Betty Street, the Johannesburg CBD.

On Wednesday, Environment and Infrastructure Service MMC Jack Sekwaila led City Power’s revenue protection unit to disconnect electricity at three hijacked buildings in Jeppestown.

He was accompanied by Public Safety MMC Mgcini Tshwaku.

According to City Power, the three hijacked buildings owed a cumulative R10.9 million.

Last week, City officials had to abandon the operation because of a volatile reception.

However, on Wednesday, its employees came prepared under the watchful eye of law enforcement contingents.

Betty Street in the Johannesburg CBD was clogged with police and metro police who were armed with R5 and R3 rifles as well as private security guards armed with AK-47s.

Several pupils still dressed in their school uniforms stood outside and watched City Power’s electricians disconnect electricity in their building.

A resident said it was sad because they paid rent and electricity to their landlords monthly.

“We pay between R2 500 and R3 500 depending on the number of rooms one rents.

“The landlords pocket this money for their own benefit without thinking about tenants. Look at the children who have just returned from school – there is no electricity to warm up their food,” she said.

Sekwaila said the target was to cut electricity to all eight hijacked buildings that owed the City a cumulative R14 million.

Sekwaila said some other buildings had reconnected their electricity after they were cut off last week.

“We will no longer do level one, which is to trip the switch on the basement.

“We will now go for level three, which means we will remove all the cables from the outside.

“Once we have done that, one needs to come to our revenue office and pay a reconnection fee of R65 000,” he added.

“We know our people are paying rent, but landlords have hijacked these buildings and have decided not to pay for electricity.”

Meanwhile, Tshwaku said they knew there were lawyers who illegally owned the buildings.

“They have managed to change the title deed of these buildings, but we are on their heels.

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