Blackout ends in Northdale

2012-08-14 00:00

RESIDENTS near Balhambra Way in Northdale were without electricity for seven days while their neighbours in the Nhlalakahle informal settlement had power.

During an inspection to establish the cause of the problem yesterday afternoon, Msunduzi Municipality technicians stumbled across a municipal electric box that had been hot-wired for illegal connections.

They said the overload on the box was to blame for the frequent outages in Balhambra Way.

Yesterday the electricians were hard at work disconnecting the illegal cables.

Once the problem had been identified the lights were back on for the ratepayers, while the informal settlement was left in the dark.

This caused an outcry from residents of the informal settlement.

“This is a futile exercise by the municipality because it is just going to lead to more vandalism and more suffering to those who pay for their electricity,” said a resident who only wanted to be known as Moses.

“We are still going to steal electricity by cutting down poles, which is costly to the municipality.”

Moses said the residents were stealing only from the municipality. They were also voters and they too deserved to have lights irrespective of where they lived.

He said they would continue with illegal connections until the municipality realised that Nhlalakahle, too, had to be electrified.

Technicians and police who were on scene were verbally abused by community members.

Police had to call for back-up as some of the residents snatched the confiscated electric cables used for illegal connections.

The angry community also threatened to use a petrol bomb on their paying neighbours for being what they called “municipal spies”.

“You will be in the dark once these people have left our area,” shouted the informal dwellers.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said the municipality was discussing the possibility of electrifying the informal settlement because ongoing vandalism of the electricity infrastructure through illegal connections was costly.

“A lot of our paying customers are greatly affected because of the illegal connections.

“We are seriously considering electrifying the informal settlements and once the decision has been taken then we’ll inform the public,” he added.

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