I wanted to say something positive about load shedding. To explain things that could occupy us during load shedding. Activities you could plan to do during load shedding. And as I put the proverbial pen to paper, I stopped for just a moment. I realized that though it was good to keep people’s spirits up during this pandemic which is now compounded by load shedding; I was viewing it through my privileged eyes. Privileged, not financially but privileged because I have a roof over my head; it is sturdy enough to keep me relatively safe from criminal elements and bad weather. 

It dawned on me that my mantra of “living consciously” was not being practiced by me in this instance.

Load shedding is inconvenient for me and the work I have to do, however, it becomes scary when I need to nebulize because I can’t breathe.

I have a nebulizer though, and that is more than most people with the same condition as mine has in this country.

The safety of our vulnerable elderly and children living in townships is compromised by the darkness that surrounds them. Their vulnerability becomes worse because a criminal can easily remove the door of a shack. The door doesn’t offer much resistance as its frame is precariously held together by pieces of wood and iron that could blow over with a strong gust of wind.

Not very many people can afford gas stoves; the result is that babies and children have to wait for food. They certainly don’t understand what load shedding is all about.

There are the people walking from taxi ranks in pitch darkness to their homes after a hard day’s work. They could be attacked and robbed or in the case of women, sexually assaulted and the perpetrator could get away with the crime committed as there’s no way of identifying them with the “blackness” surrounding them.

Those in need of emergency services in a life-threatening situation have no hope as there’s simply no way the emergency services personnel can distinguish one shack from another besides their vulnerability at the hands of criminals.

Very few criminals are brazen enough to commit their dastardly deeds in daylight. Most criminals seek darkness to commit heinous crimes.

The children can’t use the outside ablution facilities during load shedding and telling a child to wait until the lights come on is impossible besides being bad for their bladders.

Then there’s the real possibility of shack fires as candles are being lit to keep away some of the darkness surrounding them.

There’s so much that could and often does go wrong under the cloak of darkness that I have to advocate that the lights be kept on. It needs to remain on to counter all of the above mentioned and more.

When people are vulnerable telling them about maintenance, shutdowns or wet coal means very little as they fearfully huddle in their shacks waiting for the lights to go on.