Mandela's home running on generators after lights go out in Joburg


A person walk past a display at the Cape Town Honours Nelson Mandela exhibition in Cape Town, South Africa.


Michelly Rall

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A strike by utility workers has left large parts of Johannesburg in the dark, with Nelson Mandela's home among those affected by power cuts after technicians walked off the job.

Generators have been brought in to help keep the lights on at Mandela's residence in the Houghton suburb of Johannesburg, where the former South African president was transferred Sunday after being discharged from hospital.

The house has been reconfigured to provide around-the-clock, intensive care treatment for Mandela, 95, who spent nearly three months at Pretoria’s Mediclinic Heart Hospital after being admitted June 8 with a recurring lung infection.

Mandela’s condition is still critical, and at times unstable, according to the most recent official update from President Jacob Zuma’s office.

The strike by Johannesburg City Power technicians is one of several work stoppages underway in South Africa, during what is known as "strike season" when workers renegotiate their contracts.

At the country’s gold mines, some 80,000 workers have gone on strike for higher wages, with the economic impact on the mining sector estimated at $30 million a day.

City Power said it could take up to four days for electricity to be restored throughout Johannesburg. The utility provider is investigating allegations that striking workers, who downed tools Wednesday over a new system of shift work, have deliberately sabotaged the power grid.

The electricity provider installed a back-up generator, guarded by an employee, a block from Mandela's house Wednesday night following a power outage in the area.

The Star, a Johannesburg newspaper, reported that another generator could be heard from outside the high walls surrounding Mandela’s home.