Picture: for illustration purposes

Khayelitsha School in Power Crisis Amid Illegal Electricity Connections

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

Nomsa Mapongwana Primary School in Mandela Park, Khayelitsha, has been grappling with an unusual crisis that threatens to undermine its primary function - providing quality education to the children of the area. The school's electricity supply has been persistently disrupted by illegal electricity connections committed by informal dwellers living nearby since 2021.

The school's deputy principal, Loyiso Mkula, highlighted the grim reality of the predicament. The classrooms sit in darkness, with lighting available only in the kitchen and administrative offices. This situation creates an environment unsuitable for learning, forcing the school to rely on neighbouring schools for the provision of basic services such as printing essential documents.

Despite consistent complaints to Eskom over the past two years, the issue persists. Though the power company disconnects the illegal connections, the dwellers promptly reestablish them, often within a couple of hours. The illegal activities have not only jeopardized the school operations but also raised safety concerns for pupils, with visible connections presenting potential hazards along the routes they walk to and from school.

The illegal connections have also resulted in rising electricity bills, straining the school’s budget. The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) acknowledges the discouraging situation. Plans are underway to install an on-site electricity distribution box to help alleviate the problem, but progress is slow-moving.

Whilst the school has attempted to curtail the issue with the installation of a solar panel system, the expense of replacing batteries, which costs R15,000 each, has proven prohibitive.

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