South Point residents frustrated by inadequate response to power outages

Students staying in private student accommodations in Braamfontein concerned by a series of suspicious power outages affecting their daily lives. 

Recently, on May 1, 2024, City Power confirmed that a fire broke out at Fordsburg substation the previous night, due to suspected vandalism and cable theft.  

According to City Power, cable theft at the Fordsburg substation not only started a fire, but burnt the cables linking it to the Braamfontein one. This caused a blackout for many areas in Braamfontein and Parktown. It was the third time City Power announced a power outage in Braamfontein, which resulted from cable theft in the month of April, with the area also experiencing unexplained power outages on April 1 as well April 9, 2024, respectively

Despite this recent outage in May, in the previous month, South Point residents said that they have been solely experiencing power interruptions that have not been reported by City Power. This has caused outrage from students who believe South Point is being secretive about the cause of the interruptions. The students are also concerned about the frequency and how poorly prepared South Point is for them. 

The most recent building to go through a power outage was 56 Jorissen, a South Point student accommodation situated across from the Wits Arts Museum. The outage occurred on April 24, and it lasted for three days. Tenants also experienced water issues alongside power outage.  

South Point accommodation, 56 Jorissen, and Wits Arts Museum, Braamfontein. Photo: Siyanda Mthethwa

A tenant at 56 Jorissen Omolemo Tsomele, a third year LLB student at Wits University, expressed his concerns regarding the frequent power outages. He criticized South Point’s lack of sufficient assistance with the matter, and said that they waited until the electricity returned to help the tenants with food, which was already too late as groceries were affected by the outage. Tsomele also cites 56 Jorissen’s lack of a backup generator was a problem as the outages occur frequently, adding that the generator that is in place only lights up the hallway and keeps the Wifi on. 

Earlier in April, a similar experience occurred at another South Point building in 46 de Korte from the 8th of April to the 11th. Sibongiseni Lungani Daniel, a fourth-year Theatre and Performance student at Wits University is a tenant at this accommodation. He expressed that residents at the accommodation did not receive clear communication on the issue.  

He claims that South Point only provided food on the third day of the power outage. He said he is unhappy with the minimal efforts that it makes in times of power crises, and he questions why City Power does not have cables readily available to replace the stolen cables, given that it is a recurring issue.  

On April 26, 2024, The Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) published a statement on Instagram acknowledging the power outage at South Point 56; and stated they met with them that night before. In the same statement, it was said that the power had been restored and that the SRC were working with South Point management to distribute meals to those who were affected.  

West campus residences left in the dark

West Campus and its three residences were left without electricity for nearly five hours on late Wednesday afternoon. Wits residences, especially the Highfield residences in Parktown are prone to power cuts during the peak of winter.

Campus Development and Planning (CDP), who are responsible for implementing power outageprevention strategies on campus, had said earlier this week, they were prepared for winter with two generators recently constructed.

According to CDP Director Emmannuel Prinsloo, the construction of two generators on West and East Campus was “to provide emergency backup power to the university in times of load shedding as had been the case two years ago or when unscheduled power supply interruptions are experienced.”

Students at res will also benefit from this, as all resident houses are in the process of been added onto the system. This will ensure that in case of load shedding, lights and plugs will still be available.

The national power utility Eskom have said that power supplies are on knife edge as winter approaches.The New Age quoted Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe confirming that “the system is very tight,” but no load shedding was schedule yet.

However City Power Johannesburg released the schedule for load shedding on Wednesday.

PIMD (Property and Infrastructure Management Division) and CDP were not available to comment about Wednesday`s power outage on West campus.

Check out for the link to the load shedding schedule.