City Power withdraws employees from xenophobic hotspots
Power utility’s operations resume in some areas, while Pikitup will decide on Tuesday whether it is safe on the ground
Service delivery was halted in some of the xenophobic hotspots in Johannesburg, with two municipal entities citing safety concerns.
Violence has engulfed parts of Gauteng for more than a week as lootings and attacks flared up in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. Official figures put the number of people killed in the violence at 12. More than 600 have been arrested.
On Sunday, City Power, the Johannesburg metro’s power utility, withdrew response teams from flashpoint areas, which included the Johannesburg CBD and its surrounding areas such as Jeppestown, Malvern, Rosettenville, Hillbrow and Berea.
It warned customers on Sunday evening that they will continue to be inconvenienced with limited or no response to fault calls in areas where danger is expected. It said this was for the safety of staff and contractors.
“We acknowledge as City Power the potential safety concerns for our employees due to the continued attacks, protests and lootings. This means that as a service delivery utility City Power may find it difficult to respond to some of the fault calls in the areas we have identified as flashpoints,” City Power CEO Lerato Setshedi said.
On Monday afternoon, however, City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said operations have since resumed in some of the areas affected by the violence and looting. These include the Johannesburg CBD, Malvern, Jeppestown and Hillbrow, after assurances by the police and ward councillors that it is fairly safe to go into those areas.
“We have urged our employees and contractors to exercise caution and ensure they take measures necessary to ensure their safety and that of the cars, equipment and the infrastructure they work on,” Mangena said.
He added that City Power will continue monitoring the situation and make the necessary calls to ensure its employees are safe.
While Johannesburg Water was not affected, Pikitup spokesperson Muzi Mkhwanazi said the waste management entity is working in the inner city. But Pikitup employees were not allowed to work in volatile areas such as the Maboneng precinct and in Jeppestown, especially around the hostels.
He said Pikitup is ready to resume its work in these areas, but it must be assured that it is safe. Pikitup will determine on Tuesday morning whether it is safe or not.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday again condemned the violence after the death of two more people. One was shot and the other was stabbed.
Ramaphosa called on law enforcement agencies to maintain vigilance, saying they should be firm in dealing with individuals or groups who took the law into their own hands and violated the dignity and rights of other people without raising their grievances with the relevant authorities.
“Government will not allow sporadic lawlessness and violence to disrupt the safety and livelihoods of millions of South Africans and the majority of foreign nationals in our country who are law abiding and have the right to conduct their lives and businesses in peace,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the lawlessness, injury and death inflicted a “great psychological and economic cost that lasts long after victims are buried, arrests are made and streets are cleared”. This cost holds back the country and undermines all the efforts to grow an SA that offers opportunity to all who live in it, he said.
“Lawlessness is a crime against our prosperity and stability as a nation, and those who want to upset our public order must expect to face the gravest impact of the law.”