Illegal cable kills child

2010-05-05 00:00

JIKA Joe residents have urged the Msunduzi Municipality and police to deal decisively with illegal electricity connections after a three-year-old child was electrocuted on Saturday.

Ntokozo Cele (3) was killed in the informal settlement when she grabbed a livewire allegedly running along the ground.

For the past few months, residents have fought police and municipal employees when they come to remove the illegal connections.

The connections run from the transformer on Prince Alfred Street, through the neighbourhood of council-built houses in Jika Joe and across the river to the informal settlement.

Some residents who decided against using electricity siphoned off the transformer said they have frequently warned residents who use it that it is a dangerous practice and would lead to a tragedy.

Ntokozo’s distraught mother, Mbali Cele (23), said the child did not live with her.

“She lives with her father in Durban; she was just here visiting.

“I was not around when she was killed because I had left her playing and went to borrow money to take her back to Durban.

“When I returned, the neighbours told me that she had been electrocuted and had been taken to East Street clinic, and when I got there she was already dead.”

Cele said neighbours told her that Ntokozo was electrocuted when she touched a cable that was running along the ground. No one saw her until it was too late.

Ironically, the people who hot-wired the cable and the residents using it have contributed to a fund to bury the child.

“I do not have any money and the father of the child is an orphan and is unemployed so the community members each contributed R50 to help out,” Cele said.

The contributions did not appease other irate community members, who believe the child’s death could have been avoided.

“Clearly [Cele] does not have any electricity in her house, but her child was killed by an illegal electricity connection. The contributions are just the way to silence any outrage from this,” said one.

Other residents said the police should be stricter in dealing with the problem.

“Not every­one uses or approves of siphoning off electricity like that, but all of us are at risk because this might start a fire and destroy all of us,” said another resident.

“We understand that people need to be connected to the electricity, but this is dangerous and we have always said that. This child died because of an illegal connection with a cable that had not been insulated was running on the ground.”

Community leader Bheki Dladla said that only proper installation of the electricity meters will solve the problem. “These connections are removed and by the end of the day they are back on.”

Maxwell Mthembu, the electricity process manager at the Msunduzi Municipality, expressed shock at the death of the child and said the municipality is trying to solve the electricity problems in Jika Joe.

He warned that those responsible for the ­illegal connections will be caught and dealt with. “Stealing electricity is a crime and we urge the community to assist us in catching those responsible.”

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said the police are investigating a case of culpable homicide.

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