JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN – Security companies have warned that the impact of load shedding could be far more damaging because of criminals who take advantage of the situation.
The country has been grappling with rolling blackouts for almost a week now.
Director of Excellerate Services Security Gary Tintinger said there had been a spike in reported criminal incidents over the last few days.
Tintinger could not confirm whether the crimes were as a result of load shedding but said criminals make use of the opportunity when there is no power.
“Typically, it’s people who are concerned when they see a shadow and may be difficult for us as well to respond to these instances.”
Meanwhile, Fidelity ADT’s Rynhardt Steenkamp has some tips for keeping safe during these rolling blackouts.
“Ensure there is an alarm system with adequate battery supply and that all the automated gates and doors are locked and secured.”
Security companies have urged South Africans to manually cancel false alarms caused by load shedding so they can prioritise calls that need urgent attention.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on Tuesday said load shedding could throw South Africa’s economy into a recession.
Winde said with the economy not growing, electricity problems could bring the economy to its knees.
The load shedding crisis might have many South Africans frustrated but it has an even bigger impact on business and other industries.
Winde said the effects would be dire: “The biggest loss is that the chances of moving to recession is a big risk. Of course, that’s the loss; it’s a rand-term loss and that is what we’re trying to mitigate as much as possible.”
At the same time, the City of Cape Town is forging ahead with its fight for the right to buy cleaner energy directly from Independent Power Producers and to improve energy security.
The city has asked for an expedited hearing on its energy case involving the minister of energy and the National Energy Regulator.
SMALL BUSINESSES SUFFERING
With small business owners suffering due to rolling blackouts, a Bonteheuwel pensioner’s already seen the collapse of her business.
Lorraine Johnson has been selling ice cream suckers and cones for the past two years.
Since load shedding returned, her products and business have melted.
The mother of two – whose youngest son is still at school – relies on the profits of selling ice cream to feed her family.
She uses her R1,700 Sassa pension to stock up on the ice cream and suckers she needs every month.
Her pension only goes so far, so she relies on the R300 profit she makes to get through the month.
“I’ve got to pay my rates, water and lights – so this little profit helps me.”
R12 a sucker ensures that she has bread on her table but with her stock melted and unsellable, she’s not sure how she is going to make ends meet this month.
With no end in sight to load shedding, small business owners all over the country are struggling.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers said it was battling to keep up with the demand for assistance as the drought worsens.
The organisation has been hard at work for months, delivering water to various towns, and drilling a number of boreholes.
Load shedding has worsened the strife of eastern cape residents who are already dealing with a lack of water as dams and rivers continue to run dry.
Residents in Graaf Reinet and Adelaide have been without running water for weeks – and months and in some areas, municipal water tankers visit areas only once in three weeks.
Gift of the Givers’ Imtiaz Sooliman said water demands were going to increase, worsening the crisis.
He said rapid response teams were battling to keep up with the demands.
“Gift of the Givers has already spent R230 million from 2017 up to the present time. Right now, the urgency is the thousands upon thousands of homes across the country where water is compromised.”
Sooliman said areas including Butterworth and Queenstown were calling for immediate intervention.
“The problem is that time is running out and has already ran out. It requires massive funding from government or corporate or the public. There is an urgency to provide water.”
He said the situation was beyond urgent and emergency phase.
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