An electricity distribution company in South Africa, City Power, has cut off power supply to the Nigerian consulate in Johannesburg over “unpaid bills”, according to a report by TheCable.
On Wednesday, the DisCo said the consulate was owing at least R600,000 (about $35,000).
“We are on our 2nd day of revenue collection drive around Alexandra Service Delivery Centre(SDC). Here we started with the Nigerian Consulate General in Illovo who owe @CityofJoburgZA minimum of R600 000, and they were cut off,” City Power tweeted.
Isaac Mangena, City Power’s spokesperson, said the Nigerian consulate shut its gates and refused City Power entry into the building.
He added that the consulate’s electricity was cut off when it was clear that no officials were going to meet with the DisCo.
In a statement on Wednesday, the consulate faulted City Power’s actions, saying it was a violation of international treaties.
The consulate said an investigation would be launched to address the “illegal violation”, saying the electricity company arrived “without prior notice and disrupted services”.
“The consulate general of Nigeria in Johannesburg hereby condemns the invasion of its premises on Wednesday, 18 January 2023, by officials of Johannesburg City Council purportedly on a debt-recovery exercise,” the statement reads.
“The invasion squad, which comprised officials of Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), and City Power, as well as members of the press, arrived at the consulate without prior notice or appointment and disrupted normal consular services.
“The consulate maintains that the action of the officials, no matter the justification, was in complete violation of extant international treaties and conventions, especially the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963, which guarantees the inviolability of consular premises.
“Furthermore, the consulate wishes to express its regrets to members of the public for the disruption to services caused by the invasion and hereby assures that normal consular services have been restored at the mission.”
South Africa has been experiencing an energy crisis for years with residents protesting long hours of power cuts.
TheCable had reported that violent protests broke out across the country amid growing frustration about the problem.
In response, the government said it was on course to pass a law speeding up power projects but noted that electricity shortages could continue till 2024.