ILLEGAL ELECTRICITY CONNECTION PROTEST LOOMING
By: Nozipho Mbambo
Angry residents of Wyebank informal settlement, West of Durban are threatening to intensify their protest march action against the eThekwini Municipality.
During the month of June this year, over 200 residents barricaded roads entering Clermont, Wyebank and New Germany.
The community’s main grievance is that the city power officials disconnected all illegal electricity connections in the area. Residents thereafter were up in arms-citing that they have been habituating in the informal settlement for 12 years.
Nomabelu Jeza (62) one of the residents said, “We call on the municipality to connect electricity at least in each shack whilst waiting for our RDP houses. We live under harsh conditions in this area, we fear for our children as illegal electricity connections are dangerous. Many of our neighbor’s shacks were burnt by candles hence we connect electricity illegally. We do not have any other choice because we also want to live normal lives,” she added.
The Kwa-Zulu Natal Eskom Manager Sifiso Mazibuko said that on average two cable thieves are electrocuted each month in the country.
“In the past two months seven children and one adult were killed in the informal settlements north of Durban alone,” said Mazibuko.
He further emphasized the importance of reporting the deaths in such cases.
Zweli Khumalo, Eskom’s Safety Officer stated that communities can now immediately report unsafe electricity connections on the variety of platforms that they have ben given by Eskom.
According to the Statistics SA’s survey on household energy, 85.3% of households had legal connections, 4% have no electricity and 11% of households were connected to alternate electricity connections, (also known as illegal connections) and did not pay for electricity.
The eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo’s spokesperson Sithembiso Mshengu said the Municipality was unaware of the protest and therefore was unable to respond to any questions.