In the East Rand township of Kwa Thema, where legal supplies of electricity are scarce, coal often serves as a source of fuel. In the four-kilometre-square area of the settlement, there are several coal yards that sell and deliver bags of coal to residents and smaller retailers. The cost of a full bag is approximately R60 – but, a lower price can be negotiated if the buyer purchases 10 or more bags of coal.
During the past 10 years the township has developed rapidly, leading to increased demand for power in the area.
Coal – or malahle, in Zulu -- is preferred for cooking and heating because it burns for a longer time than does wood, and does not generate as much smoke. To burn it properly one need to know how to make the ‘upside-down’ fire.
The use of this fuel also comes with disadvantages, however. Burning coal produce a toxic/noxious gas causing lung diseases and also produce smoke pollution. Learning this ‘upside-down-skill’ cause the coal-fire to burn more efficient and produce less smoke/gas.
(Images: © Nicolene Olckers/Gingernixphotos)