Thembelihle protests caused R1.5m in damage

2011-09-07 11:14

Damage of R1.5 million was caused during this week’s service delivery protests in Thembelihle, south of Johannesburg, city officials have said.

They said protesting residents set fire to three load centres, depriving most of Lenasia extensions 9 to 11 of power from Monday night to 3am today.

This emerged from a joint statement by Roslyn Greef of the mayoral council and City Power acting managing director Sicelo Xulu.

A third of the area was still without power this morning, but City Power said all these areas would be reconnected by the end of the day.

Public lighting had been installed in Thembelihle to improve security in the area, but this infrastructure had been damaged by illegal connections. The company would remove the illegal connections, but maintain the public lighting.

“While we remain committed to supplying electricity to all residents of this city, we are however not in the position to do any electricity installations in Thembelihle until the area is officially proclaimed a human settlement,” said Greef and Xulu.

City Power had opened a case of damage to property at the Lenasia police station over the fire. It said Thembelihle residents should take responsibility for the public lighting and protect it from those who stole cables and made illegal electricity connections.

Residents of the informal settlement planned to march today in support of those arrested during the protests this week, said police spokesperson Captain Mbulaheni Netshivhodza.

“We have received information that they are planning to march, but at this stage we don’t know where they will hold the demonstration.”

He said a heavy police contingent was present at the township, near Lenasia, and the situation was calm.

Both lanes on Klipspruit Valley Road had been opened this morning after residents barricaded it with burning tyres and rocks on Monday.

Eighteen people were arrested in connection with public violence and malicious damage to property during the protests against poor housing, water shortages and corruption.

Residents fired live ammunition at police, a school and a councillor’s house yesterday morning. Police fired rubber bullets in return.

Protesters also damaged cars, traffic lights and electricity meters and trampled on a 15-year-old girl as they ran from the police.

Two occupants of a Toyota Cressida were pelted with stones.

Tebogo Tshwala (11), who was hit in the face by a rubber bullet on Monday, was discharged from Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital the following day, according to a report in the Sowetan.

Housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi addressed residents yesterday on their issues.

The DA called on Mmemezi to intervene in the protests and formulate a plan to improve service delivery in the province.

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