Jika Joe residents protest over electricity

2016-09-07 06:00
PHOTO: supplied Jika Joe residents protest last weekend allegedly telling the municipality to give them free electricity.

PHOTO: supplied Jika Joe residents protest last weekend allegedly telling the municipality to give them free electricity.

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RESIDENTS of the Jika Joe informal settlement barricaded roads as they protested twice this weekend calling for free electricity from the municipality.

Manor, parts of Burger and Loop streets and the Village (residential area behind Brookside Mall) were left without electricity during the protests.

It is alleged the Jika Joe residents illegally connected numerous cables to electricity power boxes and light poles around the area, which resulted in an overload of electricity.

Around midday on Saturday, municipal employees were escorted into the area to repair the electricity power boxes.

After the illegal connections were removed, Jika Joe residents barricaded Masukwana (East) Street with burning tyres and debris in protest.

The protest went on for almost two hours on Saturday but on Sunday the protest erupted again.

A resident living in Ash Road, who asked not to be named, said more than 100 people barricaded Ash Road and “dug up” the tar, allegedly to place their illegal cables there.

“They are running the cable from the light poles near our houses into the informal settlement. The cables began sparking and our electricity went off,” the resident said.

Although there was a strong police presence in the area, residents said the angry mob of protesters were not stopped.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the problem was solved on Saturday and electricity was restored to the area.

“The problem is not that residents of Jika Joe do not have electricity. The problem is illegal connections and the people who are not paying for their electricity consumption. They want free electricity,” Mafumbatha said.

She pleaded with the community to work with the municipality and pay for their services.

“These acts of protests and illegal connections are not just threatening municipal infrastructure but are life threatening. One death is too many,” she said.

She urged surrounding communities and residents of Jika Joe to report those who are illegally connecting electricity.

“Only you know who the perpetrators are so it is your responsibility to claim back the safety of your area and report the culprits,” she added.

uMgungundlovu South Cluster police spokesperson Sergeant Mtokozisi Ngobese said police, including the Public Order Policing unit, dispersed the crowd on Saturday and no arrests were made then.

By late Sunday afternoon when protests erupted again, Ngobese said the Public Order Police Unit were called out again.

The DA’s Mergan Chetty said the newly elected leadership in Msunduzi needed to address the issues of electricity, housing, water and jobs as a matter of urgency.

He said the lack of these services had caused friction between the informal and formal residents.

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