Four indebted Eastern Cape municipalities are in for a dark Christmas after Eskom started rolling blackouts on Tuesday.
The power utility started power outages in the Gariep, Maletswai, Ikwezi, and Nxuba municipalities from 06:00 on Tuesday. The four owe Eskom over R170m.
Some of the towns being affected are Adelaide, Bedford, Jansenville and Aliwal North.
The disconnections would be for nine hours a day, between 06:00 and 09:00, 12:00 and 14:00, and 17:00 and 21:00.
Eskom’s Eastern Cape spokesperson Ntosh Mafumbatha said on Tuesday that various affected parties, including businesses, made submissions before the blackouts were decided on. The effect on emergency services was also considered.
Eskom was considering cancelling the power cuts, but this would be decided on later on Tuesday.
The Democratic Alliance said in a statement that the move was unfair to residents and businesses who had paid their accounts. Many used pre-paid meters, but their municipalities were not paying Eskom, DA MP Natasha Mazzone said.
She said the public should not have to suffer due to the incompetence of municipalities, who needed to explain why they had failed to pay Eskom.