25 May 2018

South Africa: In the Dark - a Community in Soweto At War With Itself

analysis

The advent of winter has exposed how a community's constant fights for electricity have been ignored. Clashes over electricity among Protea South community members have reached boiling point, with desperate residents stealing from neighbours and in the process damaging electricity infrastructure and setting the government and community back.

Conversations raged and tempers flared in the informal settlement of Protea South in Soweto on the same day that a rare cold front hit Gauteng - a curtain-raiser for the hard winter ahead. Every early winter, community members fight over electricity.

If it wasn't for messy delivery of the scant services by government, residents would in all likelihood not be fighting one another. The fight for electricity in the area culminated in a three-day violent strike in August 2012, which resulted in multimillion-rand damage to infrastructure such as traffic lights, roads and road signs.

The community has been fighting for electricity ever since. Although an electricity project was finally delivered in the area a few years after the riots, some people in the same community were left out. Some community members were connected, others were...

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