Jika Joe: War on power theft goes on

2012-07-14 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality removed more illegal electricity connections yesterday, this time in the Jika Joe informal settlement.

This follows Wednesday’s removal of illegal connections in the Nhlalakahle informal settlement that led to a violent protest when angry residents burnt tyres and stoned passing cars at the intersection of Bombay Road and Balhambra Way.

Dramatic scenes ensued yesterday as municipal workers accompanied by heavily armed guards pulled out cables — some of them buried underground — around shacks in Jika Joe.

Municipality spokesperson Nqobile Madondo said there would be ongoing raids to remove illegal connections so that paying customers’ services were not interrupted.

Residents of Jika Joe complained that they would not be able to keep themselves warm.

“We will not be able to put on heaters,” said Mbonga Mbhele (33) who was speaking on behalf of his neighbours.

Jika Joe residents also raised the problem of having only one tap to serve scores of households, and said toilets were in a bad condition.

Their complaints were similar to those voiced by residents in Nhlalakahle.

On Thursday large parts of neighbouring Northdale were left in darkness after several power poles were toppled. Outraged residents in Northdale want the municipality to act against the people who hook up electricity cables illegally in Nhlalakahle.

“The residents here have been patient, and they understand the plight of those living in the informal settlement,” said Pastor Adiel Chetty of the Entabeni Community Church.

“People will be protesting to have Nhlalakahle removed. It is the only way forward,” said Chetty.

“As residents, we don’t know how to approach this issue. This is an issue between Nhlalakahle and municipality. We are caught in the middle of that war,” he said.

Madondo said illegal connections were “very costly” for the municipality to tackle.

“They compromise on the infrastructure that we have and are very unfair to legal paying citizens as they disrupt their services as well,” she said yesterday.

“We will continue to disconnect all illegal electrical connections within Msunduzi Municipality.”

The SA Police Service and municipal security are always on hand to assist in case of unrest,” she said.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said police were still patrolling the areas that were affected by the protests.

“Crime Intelligence members are busy trying to identify the perpetrators. A case of public violence was opened for further investigation. We appeal to the members of the community to assist in identifying these perpetrators,” said Zwane.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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