Resident shot in another power theft-related incident

2014-03-19 00:00

ELECTRICITY theft has resulted in more violence, with Msunduzi security embroiled in yet another shootout at the Nhlalakhale informal settlement in Northdale over the weekend.

Residents in the settlement claimed that bystander Nkosinathi Mthunzi was shot in the leg by security guards whom they described as “trigger happy”.

The guards are employed by the municipality to police illegal electricity installations in the area.

Mthunzi is recovering at the Northdale Hospital.

In May last year, another resident was shot at and Msunduzi security official Emmanuel Maphumulo is currently in court facing murder and attempted murder charges in that regard. In that incident it was alleged that a resident was killed during a skirmish when an alleged electricity thief was caught.

This weekend’s incident took place under similar circumstances.

Residents said about four guards, employed by Khuselani Security and Risk Management, were contracted by the municipality to guard an electricity box in Balhambra Way. These guards allegedly caught someone stealing electricity. Residents went to see what was going on and a guard allegedly fired his gun and Mthunzi was injured.

SA Police Services (SAPS) spokesperson Thulani Zwane said the guards were in the area to protect electricity installations.

Zwane said one of the security guards noticed an unknown suspect disconnecting electrical wires and a fuse from the electricity box.

“The guard immediately pulled out his firearm to indicate to the suspect that he was armed. With the assistance of the other guard they placed the suspect (42) under arrest and summoned for their supervisor to come on the scene,” Zwane said.

A few minutes later, he said, the security guards noticed a group of residents from the informal settlement running towards them.

“One of the guards, believing he was under attack and in self defence, fired two warning shots,” Zwane said.

He said the suspect arrested for the illegal electricity connection will appear in court today.

Zwane said the case against the security guard was still being investigated. He was charged for attempted murder.

Khuselani’s chief executive office Mohamed Yacoob said he could not comment at this stage since the police were still investigating the matter.

Msunduzi spokesperson Madeleine Jackson-Plaatjies said the municipality had launched its own investigation into the incident and would comment once the inquiry was completed.

The Witness learnt that the residents had a meeting on Sunday where they told the municipality that the problem of electricity theft would be resolved if the municipality kept its promise of electrifying the area and providing high mast lighting.

They also demanded a meeting with senior officials and the council leadership. DA member Mergan Chetty, who was at the meeting, was asked to take the request to the municipality.

Free power: ratepayers unhappy

THERE has been growing dissatisfaction among residents paying for electricity in the areas near informal settlements regarding people living in the settlements getting electricity for free.

The South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem) yesterday issued a statement voicing this dissatisfaction.

Samrem spokesperson Robbie Narrine said, “There is anarchy and a total breakdown of law and order in the former Indian Group Areas. The police are afraid of the informal settlers who now have electricity while the ratepayers don’t.

“The informal settlers brazenly cut sections on tarred roads and run live wires across the roads, sometimes using bamboo poles as overhead support and making illegal connections.”

Narrine went on to criticise the municipality for not doing enough to put an end to electricity theft as well as sort out other service delivery issues in the northern suburbs. He added that Samrem was assisting established informal settlements that were 25 years old with enforcing their right to housing.

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