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Loadshedding – What to do when electricity is not available 24/7

Updated on April 21, 2015


Photo by gubgib @
Photo by gubgib @ | Source

Interesting facts about electricity in SA

3 October, 1881 - Adderly Street, the most historically rich street in Cape Town, got its first electric lights installed.

2 September, 1882 - Electric street lights installed in Kimberley.

1904 - First Electric Tram in South Africa in Kimberley.

The importance of Electricity

Since electricity has been introduced, people’s dependency on it has grown to the level where, when they lose it, they find themselves in a crisis situation. People in developed countries place ELECTRICITY in the same category as water – both vital for human survival.

We can philosophise about the importance of electricity. We can try to convince each other that electricity is not vital for human survival. The fact is without electricity we, modern people, will find ourselves in darkness, desperately searching for a way back to normality.

Power Crisis in South Africa

South Africa, the most developed country in Africa south of the equator, the world’s 25th-most populous nation hosting ± 53 million people - a country ranked by the World Bank as an upper-middle income economy - is currently in a power crisis.

South Africa

South Africa
South Africa | Source

What happened in South Africa?

When people find themselves in a crisis they normally waste a lot of time searching for the cause. The culprits responsible have to be blamed, convicted, hanged, drawn and quartered before any solutions for resolution can be considered.

The most obvious culprit in South Africa’s power crisis is Eskom - Africa’s largest producer of electricity and the ONLY producer of electricity in South Africa. It was established by the government as a non-profit organisation in 1923. In spite of numerous challenges it steadily grew into a highly effective provider among the top seven utilities of its kind in the world.

In 1994 - the end of the Apartheid's regime and the beginning of a democracy with the ANC (African National Congress) in power, ESKOM was turned into a business with the government as sole shareholder.

In 2007 Eskom's bright light suddenly started to fade, but not for the first time. Even during previous regimes Eskom plunged from time to time into misery. (Ref: Eskom's History)

During the first darkest moments of the crisis, when panic turns us into irrational, revengeful creatures, Apartheid was named and shamed as the reason for the crisis. During Apartheid, which lasted from 1948 to 1994, only white people – 20% of the population – had the privilege of enjoying the luxuries provided by electricity, although, as far as I can remember, provision to black townships was an ongoing successful project since the early 70’s. (Ref: Soweto " 1976 83% of houses in Soweto had electricity.)

After blaming Apartheid, the government took responsibility and did not deny their foolish instruction to Eskom to cut on maintenance and development, and to not implement loadshedding as a temporary precaution of a total blackout. (Ref: A view-from-eskom-engineer-forced-to-take-early-pension)

Then Eskom blamed the local governments, the municipalities responsible for the governing of cities and districts, buying power from Eskom to sell at a profit to the users in their region. Due to too many citizens not paying their electricity bills, and the reluctance of these pro-ANC municipalities to terminate the services rendered to those non-payers - (as this could cause the fall of the ANC government) - and also due to their general mismanagement of funds, the 44 district municipalities and 226 local municipalities of South Africa allowed their Eskom bills to grow into billions in arrears – which obviously prevented Eskom from doing maintenance and development even before the government ordered them to cut on these two most essential items on any business’s budget.

And this, in a nutshell, is the cause of South Africa's current power crisis: Maintenance and development were flagrantly neglected.

Photo by Alan Rudnicki
Photo by Alan Rudnicki | Source

Loadshedding - the only precautionary measure warding off a total power blackout

While Eskom and the government are trying to solve the crisis of the decade, the man in the street has to cope with loadshedding – the only precautionary measure warding off a total power blackout that could last for months.

Loadshedding means ‘interrupting the supply of electricity to certain areas’. In other words, rolling blackouts based on a rotating schedule.

Loadshedding is not unknown to the world. Amongst others, it has been a reality at specific times in Canada, Ireland, Japan, Texas, California, India, the U.K., etc. (Ref: Rolling blackout)

Read more about loadshedding HERE.

By now loadshedding in South Africa is an organized reality that effects man and mouse in South Africa, and even the little fish compelled to survive in a tank oxygenated by an electrical supplier in somebody’s home, or in a pet shop. Loadshedding during 6:00am and 10:00pm can last between 2-6 hours. Go figure! Being without electricity for merely one hour not only forces one to realize the amazing power of electricity, but also one’s dependence on it.

Photo by Sira Anamwong
Photo by Sira Anamwong | Source

The effects of loadshedding

The far-reaching effect of loadshedding on the economy has not yet revealed itself as a disaster. The cutting of time for industries and businesses to generate income, including taxes that enable the government to render services such as heath care, education, etc.etc., will soon be another national crisis. (As if mismanagement and fraud don’t already have the country in a crisis situation.)

Opposed to the decreasing of income, are the increasing of running expenses due to the falling value of South Africa’s currency, consequently causing never-ending increases of oil/petrol/gas prices, which evidently leads to the price increase of everything else. On top of this, businesses have to deal with ongoing demands for salary increases by employees who can’t comprehend all the challenges to be met by the job-creators/employers.

Fuelling the disaster awaiting South Africa is also the fact that members of the government, and all who are appointed on the top levels of management - people who are remunerated by tax payers – still receive the most ridiculous salaries comparing to the income of the ordinary taxpayer. These people include all who are suspended (with full pay) while their alleged fraudulent actions are being investigated. On top of this, ± 25% of the population lives under the breadline due to unemployment.

Contemplating the horrendous effect of loadshedding on South Africa's economy, its effect on the man in the street still have to sink in.

Winter is on South Africa’s doorstep, while the shortage of electricity is still an unresolved crisis!

My questions:

Dear friends and relatives in South Africa, I need some information for an article about loadshedding -

1. What do you use in place of electric lights?
2. What kind of meals do you prepare during loadshedding, or before, that could be eaten during loadshedding?
3. What do you do during loadshedding?
4. Do you miss watching TV, or playing/working on your computer?
5. How do YOU cope with all the negative thoughts and emotions caused by loadshedding?
6. Have you suffered any significant losses due to loadshedding?
7. Do you have any inspirational tips for your fellow-South Africans?

How to diminish the devastating consequences of loadshedding

Large businesses, including hospitals, invested in large generators, while some, including homes, put their trust in solar power. Small businesses and houses seem to rely more on rechargeable batteries of various sizes.

Home creators – wives and mothers

How do you cope with loadshedding, is a question I have asked in a group called “In en om die huis” (In and around the home). As I have asked the question in an Afrikaans group, 99% of the answers were in Afrikaans. I proudly translate and share them.

My USP | Source
Thanks to my USP...
Thanks to my USP... | Source


Me, kicking off - We have had loadshedding for the fourth straight days from 18:00 to 22:00. This morning my computer at worked refused to start up. This is my second computer gone to the moon due to loadshedding. Like it was with the 1st, I think I am hoping in vain that the technician will be able to fix it and retrieve all data. I have also lost a TV, and my fridge is on its way out, due to loadshedding. I have a USP (rechargeable battery) that gives power to my computer at home – a desktop I use to practise my hobby - writing. Unfortunately this USP provides power for only one hour. (I should have bought a bigger one!) But then I also have a laptop with another hour of power. Unfortunately the battery of my router last only one-and-a-half hour. I still have to get a little gas stove. Strange, the moment the power goes off, I get a craving for coffee! I have also replaced candles with battery lights. They are cheap and effective. I need a wireless radio!

Martie van Eck' Solar Kit
Martie van Eck' Solar Kit
Mariaan Faure's oil lamp
Mariaan Faure's oil lamp
“Line Of Candles” by nuchylee
“Line Of Candles” by nuchylee | Source
“1-plate Gas Stove" by John Kasawa
“1-plate Gas Stove" by John Kasawa | Source
2-plate Gas Stove” by khongkitwiriyachan @
2-plate Gas Stove” by khongkitwiriyachan @ | Source
 “Solar Garden Lamp At Night” by franky242
“Solar Garden Lamp At Night” by franky242 | Source
“Solar Cells” by duron123
“Solar Cells” by duron123 | Source
My battery lamp
My battery lamp | Source

Alet Van Zyl - I have a 1-plate gas stove, a kettle and a pot. I boil water, make stew, soup, or whatever. I have invested in a good battery operated light for reading when darkness strike. My home is filled with candles so I light a match and there we go. During loadshedding I tell stories. (My granddaughter of 5 loves my stories!) Or we look at the moon and stars and listen to the silence. We honestly make the best of the situation. However, loadshedding is disruptive in many ways. I am lucky, but thinking of people in need of an oxygen concentrator or nebulizer, etc. How do they cope?

Tersia Helena Maree – I use battery lights. They are quite effective and not as dangerous as candles. I prepare food earlier than usual and keep it warm in the warming oven. We love being outdoors, eating and chatting in the moonlight. I am positive. Our discomfort is nothing comparing to the suffering of our ancestors in those concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer war. Keep in mind that our forefathers never knew the luxury of electricity. Endurance is in our genes. Everything has a beginning and an end. This, too, will pass.

Hendrieka Pozyn Visser – We use a little gas stove (those for camping), gas lamps, candles, and sun power lights.

Ansie Lotriet Coetzee – For me loadshedding is a special occasion. I listen to sounds I never hear, such as a mouse running around somewhere in the house, the tick-tock of the battery-powered clock in the kitchen and my neighbor’s snoring.

Riana Botha – We have a 2-plate gas stove; preparing food is not a problem. We have a flash drive with music and a portable, battery-powered speaker, and access to the Internet via our laptops. To prevent the sudden flow of electricity when the loadshedding is over from damaging my fridge, deep-freeze and TV, I unplugged them during loadshedding. I feel sorry for businesses, especially those who have to keep perishable food fresh in fridges. I hope Eskom’s new manager will solve all problems.

Carolyn Neser – I keep candles in glass vases for safety. During loadshedding I do handwork that doesn’t require electricity, like quilting. I listen to music on my wireless radio. For cooking I use a little gas stove. Nowadays I buy more tinned food and less stuff that can go off in the fridge and freezer. I miss my computer and empathize with those who get stuck in traffic jams caused by dead traffic lights and traffic cops shining in their absence. BTW, I make a point of keeping cellphones and all batteries charged.

Maureen Tempelman O Callaghan – I have a gas stove for cooking, candles and lamps for lighting, TV not essential, as we have so many repeats. I use the time to read, or doing crossword puzzles or catch up on filing. I sympathized with small businesses having to pay their staff in spite of no production during loadshedding.

Ntsutle Motaung Mafisa – I use candles and solar lights from Game, and cook normal meals. I cook in bulk, and eat them cold. Of course, sometimes loadshedding takes you by surprise, then you have no option but to go buy from fast-food outlets or restaurants. Fortunately most of them have generators, so loadshedding doesn’t effect them. During loadshedding I read, or continue to help my son with homework - as normal. I miss my soapies - especially Isibaya. Loadshedding is a symptom indicative of a bigger and more disturbing malaise of maladministration, bad planning, not caring about people or the economy. I do applaud the government for hooking up the black majority to an electricity grid that was meant for the exclusive use of the white minority, but more could have been done to expand it. Loadshedding, in a way, is still partly rooted in apartheid problems. Solar is the way to go. I wish i had money to make this a reality soon.

Mariaan Faurie Erasmus – I just bought an oil lamp. I have downloaded an app on my tablet to get loadshedding alerts. I plan my day in accordance with loadshedding schedules. I keep my tablet, cellphone, laptop, mp3 player and e-book reader charged. You will never hear me complain; I love the peaceful atmosphere during loadshedding. Just relax! People should gear themselves for loadshedding and stop complaining. Complaints don’t solve problems. All my fresh-water fish had died due to the horrible water provided by the municipality. The water crisis in our near future is going to make loadshedding looks like a party. I am also more concerned about xenophobia and other crap going on in this country.

Dalene Pieterse - Without TV? Good, quality family time!

Shannon - Martie, I saw your comment about loadshedding. Obviously, I am not from South Africa. But I do know how frustrating it is not to have access to electricity or a computer, a vehicle even. As long as there is a tomorrow, there is always hope for a better future.

Isabel Roesch - I have battery powered Christmas lights in the kitchen, candles and LED lamps in the rest of the house. I have a 2-plate gas stove. Loadshedding in my region is normally during breakfast, or over dinner and bath-time for the kids. I have nothing to complain about.

Joan Visser - Its only hubby and I. If we know its coming, I get rolls and cold meat, lettuce tomato and cheese. We have candles, one LED globe torch and a headlight for reading, a laptop with access to the Internet and a wireless radio. What more do we need? We have a roof over our heads!

Angelica Jooste – We use a generator (powered by diesel) at night, and a gas stove/oven for cooking and boiling water. We live on a farm, so no electricity also means no water. (The bad about electric pumps!) So, I have to keep a lot of water in containers. I hate Eskom!

Jeff Potas – I use candles, gas, and keep tea in a flask, listen to the radio and chat with my friends on my cellphone. I don’t miss TV, but my hubby does.

Jeanette Bergoff Snr – We wear those mini headlights on our heads and socialize a lot during loadshedding. During the day – when we are home - we spend quality time in the garden. It is hard at work, not being able to work during loadshedding. Everything besides filing we have to do on computers. I have sympathy with our boss, having to pay us in spite of loadshedding.

Tersia Helena Maree – I keep my flask filled with boiling water for coffee. As long as I have coffee, I’m happy. Oh, and the gas stove, too, is an important utility. However, I am quite afraid of gas. My father, who lives with us, normally gets it going.

Elizabeth Loock – I don’t miss TV. I use my laptop for editing my clients photo's in the evenings. Thanks to loadshedding we have more time to worship and praise the Lord.

Martie VanEck Du Toit – We bought a Solar Kit that keeps 2 lights burning. Also have a gas stove.

Lizette Holloway - I practice my violin during loadshedding. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables. Use candles and those Console glass bottles with the solar pads. Worse things can happen to us than sharing electricity. I feel sorry for businessmen, not able to produce during loadshedding.

Suzette Swartz - We have lamps powered by rechargeable batteries. Time flies while I am crocheting. Loadshedding will not get the better of me.

Author's note:

I think Suzette has summarized the attitude of the majority of South African women: "Loadshedding will not get the better of us!"

Mom and kids playing games during loadshedding

 © Martie Coetser
© Martie Coetser

© 2015 Martie Coetser


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    • profile image

      simon obinna 

      5 weeks ago

      Facebook Fundraiser Help – Help Center for Fundraiser on Facebook

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you, Tristan! The Rhino Inverter seems to be an affordable solution.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Audrey, I am proud of my open-minded fellow South Africans. Nothing will get them under; they always make a plan - and so they encourage the rest who are still sobbing with frustration :) Always good to see you in my corner!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      The Examiner, you seem to be okay and independent. Solar is quite expensive down here. I may perhaps consider a generator, but for the time being I'm coping with the most essential - usp-battery for computer, one-plate gas stove, battery light and candles. Thanks for your encouraging comment :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Vasantha, nice to see you in my corner. Isn't it wonderful to know that we are not the only people in the world suffering a specific adversity? Since I have obtained the essential - a gas stove, lamps and batteries - I am able to be productive during loadshedding, and also able to enjoy the good about it while ignoring the bad. Humans are the most adaptable creatures on this planet :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Hi, Vellur! Thank you so much for your supportive comment. We have been warned that loadshedding will be part of our lives for the next 3 years. Let me rather not rant about our pathetic government. Just keep on hoping that they will conquer their disabilities... In the meanwhile we keep candles and matches at hand.... :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      4 years ago from California

      This is a wow! Do you recall the rolling blackouts in the LA basin years back--I think we all adjust--this was a great article and I so appreciated the "voices" of people in it telling their stories

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 

      4 years ago

      I live in the US and this was a useful article Martie. I have a battery recharger so I can buy rechargables and compare them to solar energy and generators. I rent but I use a gas stove so cooking and heating are no problems. Right now (it is getting hot and it is humid) I use fans instead of air. I probably need a spare light for it.

      I learned much from this so I voted it up, shared and pinned it.


    • vasantha  T k profile image

      vasantha T k 

      4 years ago from Bangalore

      Wow, Just now power came and immediately when I logged in I am seeing this load shedding hub. It's 7 O'clock now. From morning there was no current supply in our area due to repair works . I found myself handicapped without computer which is my companion. I utilised this time to clean the brass vessels which is used for worshiping. Then I did stitching work with my hands. As I stitched I felt the atmosphere so peaceful and calm with out any noise. It was nice. I keep candles and oil lamps ready during load shedding. We too face this load shedding regularly.

      Good interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Loadshedding must be very difficult to deal with and you have given great solutions to handle such a situation. No doubt it is great time for bonding with family and playing a musical instrument still it is a situation everyone will be very happy to avoid. I hope things get better in South Africa. Great hub, voted up.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Alicia, so sorry you had to wait 3 days for my reply. We don't expect any miracles. It will take Eskom and the government years to get the system in the same condition they have received it 20 years ago, not to talk about improving it. In the meanwhile solar systems become more popular and new inventions come to light. Even before the introduction of the wheel, crises like this inspired new ideas and patents. Thank you, Alicia :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I've never heard of loadshedding before. What a sad situation! Thank you for sharing a very informative and thought provoking article, Martie. I hope the situation improves soon, but from what you say it sounds like this isn't likely to happen in the near future.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Dear Vicki, to be honest, the entire SA is a real mess. We are in a spiral going downwards at a high speed. At present the army is assisting the police in an effort to put an end to the xenophobia outburst - Imagine loadshedding while they are raiding those nests of the criminals? Thanks a lot for the best wishes :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Nadine, thanks for sharing this hub. This loadshedding is truly a very unfortunate result of mismanagement. Some people still put the blame on Apartheid, but as eager as I am to admit the wrongs of Apartheid, the convinced I am that this crisis is not the result of the doings of a regime that came to an end 20 years ago. I am curious to learn more about your Clovelly project. It sounds like a brilliant idea, especially in your neck of the woods :)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Dear Martie,

      We are so fortunate in most North American cities and towns. As I look at these comments I realise it's hard for people to understand how investing in something helpful could only result in attracting crime literally to your doorstep!

      Thinking of you every day, and wishing the best for you.

      The situation is a real mess.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      4 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      My compliments on your very informative article. We do not have a USP (rechargeable battery) yet and sadly we also have lost two laptops and we suspect it was due to the surcharge, but we never know that for sure. I will share your article on Google+ and on Facebook so many of my friends and family have an opportunity to learn what we have to deal with in South Africa.

      I must admit due to the times that we are without power, my hanging gardens of Clovelly project is getting along. Who knows one day next year my hanging plants will earn us an added income. Voted up!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Poetryman, I agree wholeheartedly with you. Hopefully this power crisis will encourage entrepreneurship. I got a quote for a solar system today - quite expensive, but I believe in the long run it will be a good investment. The crime rate, however, makes one reluctant to invest money in anything that can be stolen or vandalized. With the outbreak of xenophobia again, and the ongoing killings by barbarians for the sake of killing, I think it is better to invest in an air ticket to Timbatu :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Faith. thank you so much for sharing your story. Loadshedding does instigate quality family time, but also crime, as if SA doesn't have way too much crime already. I think God has given up on SA. We can but only hope for a miracle. Please, keep SA in your prayers, dear Faith :)

    • poetryman6969 profile image


      4 years ago

      Voted up.

      Looks like a good reason to go solar.

      Government can be a one trick pony. When government is the only game in town or even just a major player then when they screw up---and they will--you are up the creek without a paddle.

      The same is true when you have a monopoly on something. Not only can they overcharge you but when they screw up--and they will, you have no alternative.

      As noisy, inefficient, and annoying and as a bustling, competing market place with several providers can be, at least you don't have a single point failure. One of the minor players can actually do something innovative and make everyone's life better.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, Martie, I have never heard of loadshedding before. It is sickening that those whose salaries are so much higher than the average taxpayer and they are unable to do what is necessary in this modern day world, basically due to greed it seems.

      When we lived in the city, we experienced short blackouts due to storms knocking out transmitters in our older neighborhood. Then one year Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast and went inland several hundreds of miles, where we lived, even knocking down tress and of course transmitters were blowing everywhere. The longest time we went without power was three days. I even wrote a hub about it too. We were blessed due to the weather not being so hot and humid for two days, but when the third evening hit, it started getting so humid once again. However, a strange yet wonderful thing happened, my children were still at home, pre-teen or teen, I think, and we all actually came together in the evenings and talked to each other and played board games and had the best family time ever without the television or computers. Well, back then, we only had the one clunky computer and the kids did not have one as most do now. However, they had their televisions in their room. I had just purchased all my groceries and my fridge and freezer were packed. I wound up throwing it all away by the end of the three days of course. We did not have a generator. I think solar may be the way to go there in Africa? I love candles, but they are so dangerous and easily are knocked over, but now they have those flameless candles which are pretty neat. Our house then was total electric, but at least here in the country/small town we have gas. Boy, when that air conditioning finally kicked on, I praised God for creating Benjamin Franklin LOL ...

      Here in the US when there is a major blackout in huge cities, there is an increase of terrible crimes which is so frightening, and so I hope that is not the case where you are dear heart.

      I will keep you and your country in my prayers for protection and resolution of this crisis.

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning and sharing


    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      @ shanmarie – Life is an adventure :)

      @ MsDora – Fortunately this, too, will pass. These kind of crises encourage great discoveries and development :)

      @ Vickiw – I can’t describe my frustration, and I have to keep my mind wide open in order to stay positive. What I detest the most, is the fraud -

      While dishonesty was a major scandal during previous regimes, it seems to be a culture among the current. Something to do with entitlement and an undeveloped conscience, perhaps. To cry about!

      Thanks again, dear Vicki, for the gas stove and the wireless radio :) As you must have realized, both were most-needed items on my shopping list.

      @ sallybea – I envy those who have had, and still have, the opportunity to leave South Africa. Being up to date with the news, I don’t see a light at the end of this tunnel called ‘post-apartheid’. Presently the members of the EFF-party and their allies are destroying all statues that remind them of colonialism and apartheid. The current xenophobia outburst may very well instigate war, or revenge-actions elsewhere in Africa. The situation down here reminds me of life in Europe before and after the 17th century. World War 11 changed the Western World radically. The thought that Africa needs a similar war, makes me shudder. My best wishes to your family.

      @ grand old lady – Eskom never thought of preparing the public in an appropriate way. After a lot of outcries and demands from the public they finally came forward with a proper schedule, which they only started to follow effectively a couple of weeks ago. Their modus operandi was extremely dictatorial. They actually still operate like dictators, although currently disabled due to the government’s intervention. We are also facing a disastrous water crisis, also due to the poor and ineffective management of our resources. Watch this space, I am going to spill the beans soon.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      We've had brownouts in the Philippines but I don't know if they ever practiced load shedding. However, it sounds like a good idea provided they inform people in advance so that they can plan their activities and how to deal without electricity. We have also had water shortages, but we think we'd rather have electric outages than water shortages. I mean, if it must be one of the two.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk

      How sad, my country of birth and yet it has come to this! I cannot bear to think of how bad things have got. My own family are still hanging in there, just, but I can see they have begun to cast their eyes towards far off lands and I for one have to say that I will be happier knowing that they and theirs will be a lot more secure and feel a lot safer.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi Martie,

      What a disastrous situation. Totally ridiculous, caused by sheer incompetence, without any consequences to the people who shouldn't be there if they can't do the job. Eskom used to be so efficient and good.

      I think one of the many things I admire about you is your frankness, and unwillingness to put your head in the sand.

      Sorry you have to put up with this nonsense. I feel angry about it for your sake. I wish the situation would change.

      Very interesting and well written post.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      I admire the attitude of those who have learned to live above the discomfort, but loadshedding as a way of life seems like a major challenge. Thanks for allowing us to see the opportunities we have which we take for granted. Hoping some improvement of the situation is ahead soon.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Wow, Martie! I'm sure it wasn't, but that almost sounds adventurous.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      @ bravewarrior – When the ANC came into power in 1994, they promised electricity to everybody and all. They even insinuated that electricity would be ‘free’. Cutting supply in the townships (where the most of their followers live), means losing votes. The municipalities established a ‘pay-as-you-go’ system via boxes installed in homes, but the people have learned how to gyppo these boxes, consequently stealing electricity for years until they get caught and fined. Some people even risk their lives by connecting illegal wiring to the grid. You have to see it to believe it. Have a look at this, and if you google ‘stealing electricity in South Africa’, and change to ‘images’, you will get the shock of your life -

      @ billybuc – I am actually waiting for America to harness the power of lightning.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting :)

      @ shanmarie – I remember living on a farm without electricity until the age of 6. I remember the coal stove, lanterns and candles, and my fear of the dark. I remember being in a boarding school at the age of 8, where power was supplied by a noisy generator, and the water – in a geyser called ‘a donkey’ - was heated by an open fire. 8pm the generator was shut down. We, kids, were not allowed to use candles. Some of us had torches, which we had to use when we want to go to the toilet. So, ya, that explains my ‘dry bladder’ :))

      @ jesimpki – Wow! I think after being without power for an entire week, one will most certainly be thoroughly prepared for the next time. A solar panel kit and deep cycle battery are on my wish list. Thanks for the wonderful advice!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      @ Nell Rose – Those incompetent powers make it difficult for all of us to suppress anger while tolerating the situation. And all the inside, fraudulent politics! Enough to instigate a civil war! Just have a quick look at this article.

      @ Genna East – I see some journalist don’t have it as one word, but as two: ‘load shedding’. Some even write load-shedding. In Afrikaans we combine two words when they have one specific meaning. I have bought a wireless radio and a gas stove today. Amazing what we miss when we don’t have electricity! Music and coffee were my first! Not to talk about the Internet. But I can always replace the Internet with a book. Oh, and I can play my piano. On top of this loadshedding, xenophobia is showing its horrible face again. Another horrible story about horrible people in my God-forsaken country!

      @ Dearest marcoujor, I can’t even imagine life without you in my inbox! The mere thought strangles me! Just say it – I am addicted to you and all my online friends. I think this song is appropriate – with a pinch of salt -

      @ FlourishAnyway – Ridiculous, isn’t it? I am so sorry (and ashamed) to say this: The people in charge has no, as in NO, comprehension of the value of money. Keep in mind, they never had money. They never learned how to work with money. They do not know the difference between a thousand and a billion. They have no clue what a budget is supposed to be. For them all money is ‘funny’ – numbers on paper. My dead hope is trying to get a spark from the next generation.

      @ mary615 - Every year I hold my breath, expecting the worse from those hurricanes you get. I’ve lost my confidence in a generator. Last week a family of eight was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator -

      @ schoolgirlforreal – This is what I love about HubPages. We learn so much from each other. Thanks for coming over for the read and commenting :)

    • jesimpki profile image


      4 years ago from Radford, VA

      Oh wow, I didn't realize how bad the situation of load shedding is. It makes me thankful that the power is reliable where I live and don't have to worry about food spoiling, so long as the power remains on. This reminds me of the time when we lost power for just over a week in Virginia due to severe thunderstorms in 2012 that affected power for a significant portion of the state. I was happy to have my solar panel kit and deep cycle battery for keeping my phone and laptop charged to be able to stay connected and be able to submit assignments for classes. Since then, I've installed a power inverter in my car, put a couple of small APC UPS units that I've found for sale very cheap that just needed new batteries, which was a very reasonable expense when buying them online, in commonly occupied areas. I use my UPS units to prevent my desktop PC from getting killed by lightning strikes or loss of power and it lets me keep working for a few minutes and shut everything down. I also have one UPS kept charged up for backup power to an LED lamp in the living room.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Oh my gosh, Martie. I know I mentioned to you about being without electricity for days, sometimes a week or two. Your article brings back those feelings and memories. I remember using a candle to warm water by the bucketful to take a bath. No power equals no internet even with wireless connections because things can't stay charged. It means listening to sounds at night one is unaccustomed to, some kind of creepy. I really just feel for you all. ButI know the frustrations all too well that power outage can bring. But, not letting it get the best of you is the best possible outlook, I think.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      @ suzettenaples – Loadshedding is done in stages 1-4, depending on the available power. When everybody save power, no loadshedding, the more the demand, the higher the stage. All cities and towns are divided in zones. During stage 2, loadshedding would be once every day. During stages 3-4, more than once every day. The latter will be our lot during this coming winter.

      SA has enough coal to provide electricity for the next 200 years (I heard someone said the other day). On top of this we have the sun and water and wind.

      Poor management is the only reason for our current crisis. But what else could we have expected? No members of the ANC had any experience of management. They were revolutionist, freedom fighters, for decades. Although I think they have had enough time (since 1994) to get themselves on the standard required for the managing of a country and its resources. I mean, how long does it take to train a manager? Training – training – training! Skills development. Nobody in any occupation should ever stop attending courses and seminars.

      Unfortunately, after the election in 1994, qualified whites were retrenched (in all sectors), and unqualified and inexperienced people were appointed in their place. (Affirmative Action.) Evidently, all those leaders of the revolution had to be appointed in high positions. According to our Law: Once you are appointed in a position, you have to prove yourself as a failure, through serious disasters, before you get suspended (with full pay), while they investigate your doings of the past years. (A process that can take months.) Of course, you may resign and claim your pension and all money that is due to you. But why resign? Somehow, if you are a VIP, you will be rescued by your fellow-VIP’s - redeployed – (appointed elsewhere) – where you can continue to be the idiot you are until death stops you.

      Oh, Suzette, don’t let me go on… And please, this is not about race, but about talent, abilities, skills, qualifications. These qualities exist in people of all races. It is time for the president to stop his habit of appointing his buddies in positions they are not able to fill.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nice write, Martie. I suspect more and more of the world is going to be looking for alternatives like this one. We have stretched nature about as far as we can. California is a mess and will continue to be, and I am guessing more states will be facing a crisis soon.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Martie, electricity is something we take for granted. Here, in The States, if you don't pay your power bill, they cut you off. I'm surprised your provider allowed itself to go so deeply into the hole by continuing to provide power to those who don't pay their bills.

      I love the positive attitude of everyone you interviewed. Not one feels sorry for themselves, but do feel for the entities that cannot make do without power. Most of them take the down time to have quality family time and make the best of what they've got.

      Very interesting article, Martie.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Good morning, all my fellow-hubbers. Thanks for your supporting comments. I will be back this afternoon - after the loadshedding - with individual replies :)

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image


      4 years ago

      What a great article, and I'm thankful you shared this information with us. I had never heard about load shedding either and if it weren't for hubpages, probably wouldn't have.

      I think it's great to know about, to be prepared for loss of the future, if it happens. You are so right- we are so dependent on electricity..that's it's like a disaster without it-it's great to hear how people cope and live with loadshedding. Good tips.

      Voted interested and sharing on FB.


    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      4 years ago from Florida

      I live in S. Florida where we have to be prepared for power outages during the hurricane season. We have gasoline generators which keep our food cold, but no TV, internet, etc.

      A lot of newer homes here are putting solar panels on their houses. It's expensive but they do capture the sunlight.

      We do take our power for granted. It's hard to imagine not being on the computer!

      Voted this Hub UP, etc. and shared.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Billions in arrears? And now basically rolling blackouts in a modern country in this day and age? Oh, dear. I had no idea. Voted up and more. Sharing. People need to understand what others around the world (you my dear friend) are struggling with.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Oh Sista,

      The mail system is the internet is sketchy...I tell ya, I am brushing up on my telepathic abilities because nothing, and I mean nothing, will keep us from communicating... can you tell what I'm thinking?? That's right, I love the passion you put into whatever you write...from soup to nuts...and this is surely nuts (LOL)!

      Love you and big hugs and sharing too, mar

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      @ mckbirdbks – A little generator may keep us on the Internet... hopefully. But oh, the noise! I am pondering over the time when electricity was not even a dream. When I drive through the rural areas in our country, and I see people selling live chickens and sheep next to the road, I normally get the horrors. But now I understand. People in rural areas don’t have fridges... Can you imagine going back to that time, keeping the meat you want to eat alive in your back yard? I think I should become a vegetarian.... Rumours have it that a total, long-lasting blackout in SA is inevitable. Hopefully this is only a rumour.. On my wishlist is a solar panel.... Thanks for reading and commenting, Mck. Much appreciated!

      @ always exploring – My immediate needs are a gas stove and a wireless radio, and I am going to get them tomorrow. Really, I hate finding myself suddenly in a situation where I cannot satisfy my precious personal needs. I can’t feel sorry for others while feeling sorry for myself. Lol! You know I may be joking, but somehow this is exactly how it is. If our own needs are not fulfilled, we can’t reach out to our fellow-man and help them fulfilling theirs. So, yes, this loadshedding may even turn us into very selfish creatures. Some people are busy potting up groceries and all kinds of food and stuff in order to survive during a total blackout. Do you think they will share their stuff with their neighbours? Oh boy, this is actually a good theme for a novel.... Thanks, Ruby, you comment is much appreciated.

      @ CASE1WORKER – Knowing that this loadshedding was also a reality elsewhere, and that people actually survived it, really comforts and encourages me. During loadshedding, when anger gets hold of me, I remind myself that I was not born with the right to enjoy electricity. We live in a time where we have so many luxuries that we tend to feel entitled to have them. Thanks for reading and commenting, Case Worker :)

      @ Kathleen Kerswig – just what I was saying – we have to be grateful for so many things. I can’t even imagine what life must have been before electricity. Solar power is the most obvious solution, especially in our sunny country. Thanks so much for your kind comment :)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      What an interesting and well written hub, Martie. I’ve never heard of the term, loadshedding, before, or realized that it meant rotating blackouts. (I feel quite stupid.) “Being without electricity for merely one hour not only forces one to realize the amazing power of electricity, but also one’s dependence on it.” How true! Especially when cooling, air conditioning or heat – depending on the climate – impacts this need, notwithstanding the other uses we have come to rely on in order to survive, or at best, function in today’s world. South Africa certainly has had its share of problems, and you are experiencing an increase in the domino effect of mismanagement. I read through your comments and the answers from members of the Afrikaans group. I applaud your innovation and positive outlook. As Mike and Ruby mentioned above…I could make do without quite a bit – except my computer and the Internet. A portion of my income depends on it, as well as communication. Voted up +++ and shared.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      Hi Martie, I had never heard of this term before either, but back in the 70s we had a lot of power cuts, I remember it well. I love the way that you all seem to be taking it in your stride, as one comment said, back in the old days there was no electricity. of course these days most things are run by electricity that's why its so hard, I do hope they sort it out for you all, it must be so darn frustrating that the powers that be are so incompetent, take care, nell

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I had never heard of load shedding until this article. Makes life fun, huh? I gather this happens everyday? You all seem to be dealing with it well, but I hope your government and electric company find a way to stop this. I am surprised to hear this happening in a developed country. I didn't know this has happened in California and Texas. When I was a child and living in New Jersey, we had water scarcity due to droughts and could only bath/shower so many times a week. Of course as kids that didn't matter to us but I'm sure it drove our parents crazy. It is a shame in the 21st century this is happening. Guess we need to learn to take care of our natural resources as they might not be there one day. Such an interesting article and thanks for sharing this with us.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Hi dearest Sunshine, especially at work I feel like climbing the walls when the power goes off. Facing all those work, and I can't do anything, except filing, without my computer for 4-6 hours, arouses unbearable negative feelings in me. Anger, frustration, intolerance, name it. I actually turn wicket in less than a minute. So, this loadshedding is also an opportunity for me to evaluate the negative bitch in me and to straight her out. Easy to be good and nice when everything goes my way. Sending you lots of hugs made in the dark... Lol! Imagine, making hugs in the dark... This may save the economy!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Wow this article and the tips for how to adjust to during loadshedding is a wake up call for many people! Not only do I feel too many people waste precious power, but we also take it for granted like it will always be available. Maybe one day it won't be. Then what? Oh my, I do not even want to think about that. I hope South Africa gets the issues tended to...I know that when we lose power for less than a minute it causes havoc on electrical appliances and the internet...not fun at all. Wishing you the best SAA.

    • profile image

      Kathleen Kerswig 

      4 years ago

      This is an incredibly interesting hub. Thank you for putting this together for us to read. When I read about this, I realize just how much I have to be grateful for. I believe that more and more people will be moving to solar power in the very near future. It's going to be interesting to see how it evolves in the United States. Thanks again for sharing. Voted up! Blessings!

    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Brilliant hub- brought back our three days week in the UK in the 1970s when both gas and electric ran short. I do feel for you- but from what I read people are adapting and finding ways around. I guess there is more time for family life without distractions and of course salads and tinned food will be popular. I presume that it will take massive investment to sort out the situation and it will sadly be a little time before you can enjoy anything like a reliable supply. I wish you all the best of luck

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I'm with Mike on this, what would I do without my computer? I have never had the experience of loadshedding. I wouldn't be surprised if it happens one day. I see solar energy coming soon. I read that some builders are using solar. It seems that the people are dealing well with the loss. Maybe it would be a great time for togetherness. I hope you have all the things needed to get through this. Thank's for sharing Martie. Informative hub. Voted up and shared...Hugs..

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Martie, What a system. From time to time, as you say, California has been faced with this issue. I have long felt we all would be better off returning to life as our grandparents lived, that is more self sustaining. Many I know, young and old, fantasize about living off the grid. Battery operated radios and LED lamps are a must have, as you have pointed out. I think one properly sized solar panel would operate a new energy saving fridge. And heck - who needs the internet - oh, wait, I do.


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