Soweto residents refuse to pay electricity bills

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom's Treasury bailout is not the end of its financial woes as it is owed more than R30-billion from various municipalities.

Soweto residents are refusing to pay R17-billion in unpaid electricity bills.

The amount owed to the parastatal by the area is close to what 60 other municipalities are expected to pay.

In the top five defaulting municipalities, three are from the Free State with a combined debt of over R6-billion.

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Lerato Mogapi is the Secretary-General of the Soweto Action Committee, an organisation formed by the community to address concerns around Eskom.

Mogapi posed the question, "how are we going to pay it with the unemployment rate that we are currently facing?

"Hence we are saying we are not going to pay it but let's talk around conventional, which was the third option they gave us.

"They told us about prepaid but honestly speaking it is supposed to be free."

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Experts say if defaulters don't pay, it could prove catastrophic for Eskom and its credit rating.

They say Eskom can't afford to write off the debt.

Chris Yelland, an energy expert said, "they certainly can't afford to write it off, but they're going to have to write it off.

"If you can't collect it you have to write it off in due course."

Eskom has R420-million worth of debt.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has allocated the state-owned enterprise R69-billion over the next three years.


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