So we have no electricity and its getting dark and the kids are all over me, outraged!
Dad! There’s no electricity!
Yes, I say, I can see that.
Why!? they ask.
Uh, mumble mumble, payment mumble, I mumble.
Soon I have to confess: I paid late and we got cut off. Now there’s a re-connection fee I have to pay and a delay. I’m thinking fridge, freezer, supper tonight but they have far more urgent and greater disasters and catastrophes in mind:
“THERE’S NO WIFI!!” they scream in unison.
Now they’re ganging up on me. “In unison” and “Jess & Tom” are not usually linked phrases.
Well, I’m walking to the shops, I say, thinking charcoal, firelighter, matches, candles. Do you need anything? Their voices go up two octaves as they shout as one:
Lasted four days. It was cool. Very instructive. Gas cooker and candles. Cleared out the fridge and deep freeze. AND – they survived!
(I had paid on the due date but had ignored this little instruction “Rx is due immediately, the rest can be paid on the due date”).
It’s 2017 and Tobias Gumede has electricity in his home at last! This Friday he switched on the fridge he bought many years ago – and it worked!
Here’s a pic of his home the last time I saw it:
and a close-up of his environment:
A pre-paid meter has been installed and his wife Thulisiwe will top up her electricity card at the store a few km away, or on her trips to Jozini village.
Hats off to Thulisiwe! Imagine raising seven kids over twenty years before getting running water a few years ago – and now electricity! Here she is with Tobias and five of the kids. In the background as always:
And now they have ugesi, isiZulu for electricity.
Celebration called for!
In 2019 he had a room added on the left side of the house as you see it in the pics. Then he bought a new fridge in Pinetown and had the store deliver it to the bus stop. The bus driver said ‘Sure, R60’ (his ticket was R130); then ‘No, not on top, INSIDE!’ So they fitted the fullsize fridge inside the bus and off Tobias went to Jozini. There he unloaded it and found one of his homies nearby who needed money and had a wheelbarrow. They loaded it up, he pushed while Tobias balanced it for the last few kilometres on the sandy road to his umuzi.
We got a new kettle. The fancy black round Russell & Hobbs started leaking and that irritated me as it was only a year (or three? four?) old and I thought stuffit, so I dug the camping kettle out of the ammo box in the garage and we became Team Liquigas.
So I got to know the smell of red hot aluminium and that wasn’t good, so I used a pot and got to know the smell of really hot plastic handles and sometimes we’d only get tea after two boiling-dry’s and by the third boiling the kitchen smelt funny. And sometimes we rescued it but there was only enough water for half a cup, not three cups.
So I caved in within two months and bought another kettle that uses Eishkom electricity and switches off automatically because we are MAA in our house – Multiple Attraction Abundant – or VWE – Various Wonders Enriched.
My rates bill for 10 Elston is around R3500 per month. Last month it was much more interesting: R152 000. I paid R3500 and wrote to them. This month it’s R153 000, so I sighed and made an effort.
I paid R3500 again, wrote again – email – and then phoned the number on the bill for “any queries.”
They immediately said “No, you must phone THIS number, not our number”, and gave me a different number and a name. I did not ask “So why the hell is YOUR number on the bill?” I’m polite.
Got hold of a human being (one that didn’t pick up and put down!) named Helen who looked online and said “Do you also own 11 Elston Place?” Nope. “Oh. It seems a Mr Mb___’s account from number 11 has been transferred to yours”.
Aha! For the last year or so Andile and Lovemore have been asking to charge their Mom’s cellphone while they visit. Their surname is Mb___. Their Dad drives a new Mercedes Benz 320GL which occasionally visits our road. Not often. He has split from their Mom and MAYBE the reason their electricity has been cut is because he has stopped paying his rent and his rates?
AND: He used to work for the municipality, so maybe he got a china to solve the problem by shoving his arrears at no. 11 over onto no. 10?
Hopefully I’ll see resolution soon!!
AND: They haven’t asked for cellphone charging lately. Maybe they’ve had electricity again for the last month or so? I hope so for their sake – even tho it will probably be temporary . . .
Credit where credit is due. I was credited in full. Helen sorted me out. Hats off to Helen!!