Capetonians have long wondered why some streetlights are left on during the day. This is always understandable and especially true during Eskom’s intermittent load-shedding when residents are sensitive to electricity consumption and supply. It’s important for residents to note that, according to the City, there is good reason to keep these lights burning.

“Under normal circumstances, there would be no justification for wasting power. We should all be diligently conserving this precious commodity. The City has award-winning energy efficiency programmes in place and for instance LED lighting is installed in all traffic lights and more than 20% of streetlights while over 600 smart electricity meters have been installed, greatly improving the City’s electricity use management. Cape Town is a leading city for its energy saving efforts,” the City said in a statement.

However, there are several reasons for streetlights that are on during the day. One such example is that the public lights of certain City-managed roads may be kept on to deter theft of electricity and vandalism of infrastructure. Others include that streetlights can be switched on manually for maintenance purposes and to protect streetlight cables against physical damage by civil contractors as they have equipment that can pinpoint the exact locations of energised cables. The control mechanism that automatically switches the lights on and off can also become faulty.

“It’s understandable that our residents are concerned about instances of streetlights burning during the day. But the City does have good reason for doing so and the benefits of keeping them on far outweighs the benefits of switching them off. Streetlights are very efficient and of low energy consumption. The impact of the lights burning is not as big as it might seem,” Mayco Member for Energy and Climate Change, Councillor Phindile Maxiti. “When it comes to theft and vandalism in particular, it’s important to keep in mind that the cost of keeping relatively small stretches of lights burning pales in comparison to the astronomical amounts associated with the replacement of the same length of stolen cable and vandalised equipment. The City is spending millions of rands to repair and replace vital electricity infrastructure as a result of theft and vandalism. Keeping streetlights on has proved to be an effective deterrent as thieves rarely risk their lives by hacking into live wires.”

For instance, in the six months leading up to March 2019, there were about 70 incidents of electricity vandalism and theft in the metro. Vandalism and theft of critical electricity infrastructure is a challenge across the city and it more often than not affects the most vulnerable residents of Cape Town.

For example, in Area East, which includes Goodwood, Parow, Gordon’s Bay and surrounds, there was an estimated R1.2-million in vandalism and theft. In Area South, which includes Philippi, Mitchells Plain, Muizenberg and surrounds, there was an estimated R3.2-million in vandalism and theft.

Streetlights may also be on during day time due to a faulty control circuit and for this purpose, as customer complaints form an important part of effective streetlight maintenance, it is requested that customers report streetlights that are on during daytime or faulty streetlights to the City’s Fault Reporting Centre preferably via email at [email protected] or telephonically at 0860 103 089 or SMS 31220.

Customers will receive a notification number which may be used for follow up purposes. Please always ask for a reference number and keep it at hand.

“The City continues to promote energy saving tips to enhance the operational and climate-related resilience of its residents and businesses. In addition, we’re asking the Minister of Energy not to oppose the pending court matter between the City, the Minister of Energy and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). We want to procure power from independent power producers, which we are currently not allowed or able to do. Clarity for the new energy regime that we seek is very important and we’ll continue to fight for our right to provide cleaner, more affordable and secure energy to our residents,” said Maxiti.

To be energy-wise, the City says:

– Switch off appliances that you don’t need

– Switch off your geyser and only switch it on for up to two hours per day. This will save a lot of electricity and it will save you money

– Delay switching on lights and appliances until after the peak periods (between 17:00 and 21:00) whenever possible

– Switch off your pool pump, geyser and other large electrical equipment, and never run both at the same time

– Adjust air conditioners to 23 degrees Celsius if you need to use them.

Visit for more tips to save electricity and follow load-shedding developments on and the City’s social media platforms

Picture: Pexels

Article written by

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.