Tempers flare in Copesville

2011-09-29 00:00

TENSE stand-offs occurred in Copesville yesterday when the Msunduzi Municipality, backed by the South African Police Service, swooped on the unsuspecting community in Ezinketheni (Swapo C) to disconnect all the izinyokanyoka, or illegal electricity connections.

The council says connections like this are costing it millions of rands each month.

Several times police officers resorted to pepper spray to protect municipal workers from angry community members.

Defiant residents told The Witness they are not worried by the operation and vowed to reconnect the izinyokanyoka as soon as the police and municipal workers left.

During the disconnection operation municipal vehicles were loaded to the hilt with cables that are community members often use to hook up power to their houses.

The disconnection team dug up the cables, which have been a hazard especially for pupils of the local Msilinga Primary School, which is right next to a transformer that was tapped to feed illegal connections.

Most of the live connections were left without insulation or cover.

Anthony Patrick, a supervisor in the electricity department, said the illegal connections severely disrupt services.

“This [also] creates unsafe conditions for the learners who could be electrocuted while playing on the streets,” he said.

The principal of Msilinga Primary, Shivashni Essa, said the transformer trips at least twice a week because of illegal connections, and this disrupts the school’s teaching programme.

“My learners are also not safe and I always fear that something dangerous will happen to one of them and I would have to answer to the Department of Education,” she said.

However, community helper Lindiwe Makhunga defended the actions of the Ezinketheni community.

“I have been living in this area for 17 years now and one thing that will sum up all of this is that our community is neglected in terms of services delivery,” she said.

“We do not have basic needs which are prescribed in the Constitution like roads, electricity and water.

“Without these our community members are suffering from tuberculosis because they are drinking unclean water, yet they are voting in every election,” said Makhunga.

“We are not fools, we understand the izinyokanyoka cost the council millions of rands, but we have no option — we also need lights. “Before we were using candles, which were also not safe,” Makhunga added.

thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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