South Africa: Electricity Protests After RDP Homeowners Disconnect Informal Settlement

"Our electricity boxes trip and only start to work the following day" says RDP homeowner in Mfuleni

Fed up residents from Sondela informal settlement in Mfuleni, Cape Town, protested over the absence of electrification by blocking roads with debris and burning tyres on Wednesday. Photo: Vincent Lali

About 200 fed up residents from Sondela informal settlement in Mfuleni, Cape Town, have been protesting over the absence of electrification by blocking roads. The protests started at 3am on Wednesday.

Traffic was held up at the corner of Saxon Down and Hindel roads throughout Wednesday morning. Taxis and motorists also had to navigate rubble and burning tyres on Parliament Street near Sondela.

Western Cape police spokesperson FC van Wyk said, "No people were arrested, and no reports were received of people injured or property damaged. The area is calm and police are currently monitoring the situation."

Community leader Khwezi Ndabeni said, "We demand that Eskom install electricity in our shacks."

She said shack dwellers had been getting electricity through illegal connections for about four years. But two weeks ago, RDP homeowners nearby removed the wires, saying the connections caused their electricity boxes to trip and this damaged their electrical appliances. She said during the argument a house owner had struck a shack dweller with a machete on the head.

Ndabeni said, "We struggle to get money to buy paraffin and candles because our workplaces are still closed [because of the Covid-19 lockdown]."

Residents are now sharing a fireplace and pots and taking turns to cook and bake bread, she said.

RDP house owner Edward Maqokolwana said there was an increase in illegal connections and this created problems. "Our electricity boxes trip and only start to work the following day. All the while our food rots in our fridges," he said.

A spokesperson for the City, Aidan Karl van den Heever, said, "The Sondela informal settlement in Mfuleni falls in an Eskom supply area, and is located under high voltage Eskom power lines. Please approach Eskom."

At the time of publication Eskom had not responded to our questions sent on Wednesday.

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