Michele du Plessis
On October 25th, Johan Barnard stated on the Sabie Service Delivery WhatsApp group: “Tomorrow, at precisely 13H00, I will be laying off 15 of my 45 workers. And on November 15th, the rest of my workers. And this in a business that has been extremely successful in Sabie for nearly 30 years.” As a result of the load shedding, two fast-food businesses in Sabie closed down. More business owners said that if the load shedding continues, they will also have to close down. “Yes, business is really affected and that’s turning Sabie to a ghost town,” one member commented on the SSD group.
On October 25th Raymond Gouws posted: “Confirmed cases of theft last night during load shedding. Please be careful it seems they target vehicles parked outside. We need to safeguard our belongings and use initiative as we will be vulnerable during periods without power.”
On November 3rd, George Landsberg stated on the Sabie Service Delivery WhatsApp group: “Inspected problem at old Lydenburg road 77, someone tried to cut off and steal power cable at the transformer on the pole while Eskom had load shedding. Thank you, Eskom for making it easy for the izinyoka to steal without having to worry about being electrocuted because the power is conveniently switched off!”
As the load shedding continues, more and more problems surface in Sabie. Without electricity, the reservoirs run dry and there is no water supply. The sewerage reticulation plant is running into problems. “Moreover, we have been informed that the Sabie sewerage plant needs to be operable for at least 16 hours per day, failing which, raw sewerage will flow into the Sabie River, affecting hundreds (if not thousands) of people down-river who rely on the Sabie River for their water source; affecting also the various tourism activities on the river, as far as the Kruger Park. With the envisaged power cuts by Eskom, the situation becomes “borderline”, if not catastrophic!” Captain Gwilym Rees, Chairman of the Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, said.
But, despite the theft during load shedding in residential areas, and the cable theft that exacerbates the already overwhelming problems in Sabie, not all residents are throwing in the towel. “Folks, we have a long road to follow from here on. Notwithstanding that, we (the Combined Chambers) are confident that with our Members’ and citizens’ support, we can create History for our region and moreover, we can create a precedent for all those other small towns throughout South Africa who are currently being deprived of a reasonable way of life due to their dysfunctional municipalities. Please stand with us as we go forward … we cannot do this without your support; but with that, we will, indeed, make history!” Captain Rees said.