Overcharged ‘tuck-shop’ electricity
A continued struggle
After the infamous shutdown that took place in Kimberley last year, many hoped for greater change especially around the electricity issue.
Though the tariffs may have decreased somehow, a lot of communities are still oppressed by tuck shops in their neighborhoods as they continue to charge an extra R1 for every R10 one spends on electricity. The extra rand is seen as profit by tuck shop owners because the municipality does not give them any percentage from the money made through the purchases, even though members of the community took to the streets to avoid the expensive electricity.
Thozi Yawa of Phomolong explains that she gets charged R10 for R100 electricity by a nearby tuck shop and has rather opted to buy electricity through her bank application.
“My friend (tuck shop owner) next door sells us electricity for an extra R10, which is expensive, hence I decided to rather buy it through my banking app”.
Some residents of Kimberley who are not as fortunate as Yawa, have no choice but to purchase it at the tuck shops and pay whatever amount is attached to the electricity bill. Nobengula resident, Linda Ngome expressed that she buys most of her electricity coupons at the tuck shops as it’s close by, even though it’s eating at her budget. She consoles herself with the fact that it’s cheaper than having to come to town every time she runs out of the coupon.
“I buy most of my electricity at my friend because he is closer, even though he charges me R1 for every R10 spent on electricity. I could have used that R10 for bread or milk but it’s better than having to catch a taxi to town only to buy electricity”.
While some say it is profit, certain tuck shop owners claim to be charging these exorbitant amounts so to cover the paper used to print the digits of the electricity voucher. Yaziz Alan is a tuck shop owner in Nobengula, he also charges R1 for every R10 spent. He commented that he charges the extra rand because he needs to make a profit.
“Yes I also charge R1 for every R10 because we are running a business, we need to make a profit especially after what happened last year during the shutdown, our shops were looted”.
Last year, as part of the resolutions that were to be met to put an end to the shutdown were that the Sol Plaatje Municipality will put posters at all the tuck shops stating that people are not to be charged more than R1 for a electricity coupon, but it seems that this resolution was put aside and not implemented as the prices have now gone up.
Sol Plaatje Municipality communication officer, Sello Matsie states that electricity vendors are not allowed to sell beyond what was gazetted or approved by the Sol Plaatje Municipality.
“We have communicated with the public to avoid buying from such vendors. Where there is evidence of transgressions we will not hesitate to terminate such agreements though others are done through the online application”.