South Africa: Mthatha Villagers Block Road, Demand Electricity

Sigubudwini residents closed the R61 road between Mthatha and Ngcobo on Monday morning, demanding electricity and water.

Sigubudwini is a village in Mthatha. People started settling there in 2000. Residents say successive councillors have promised electricity, water and toilets but the promises have not been kept.

On Monday morning at 5am, residents blocked the R61 road with burning tyres and stones. They demanded the attention of ward councillor Nozuko Mkhontwana, accused of ignoring their complaints.

The road was re-opened when Mkhontwana promised to bring the King Sabatha Dalindyebo Municipality's Executive Deputy Mayor Nombulelo Sibeko to hear their complaints.

In June the residents went to the municipal offices, to ask the municipality to install electricity in their area. They say they were told that the municipality would do a survey in the area, and report back, but that had not happened. The residents say in 2015 the municipality installed water pipes underground but there is no water in the pipes.

Resident Xoliswa Mntose says she applied for electricity from Eskom in 2003 and again in 2012, but was told that Eskom could not supply electricity, only the municipality could do so.

Resident Khunjuzwa Mkhontwana complained about the lack of school transport. "Our children walk many kilometres and climb a hill to get to school. Some have been raped on their way from school."

Later in the day, Mkhontwana brought the executive deputy mayor as promised. Sibeko acknowledged that she had met residents in June when they came to the municipal offices to demand electricity. She said the municipality had communicated with Eskom and was waiting for a reply.

Sibeko suggested a meeting with residents, the municipality, Eskom and the department of transport (on the school transport issue). The meeting was set for 28 August at the home of the inkosi.

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