Residents short-fused

2016-12-06 06:01

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Residents of Philippi horticultural area were urged to be vigilant while making their way home last week after protest action erupted in the area on Tuesday.

Philippi police spokesperson Captain Lance Goliath confirmed the protest.

“The City of Cape Town had cut illegal electricity connections made in the area. This incited residents which sparked the protest action,” Goliath says.

Protesting occurred on Olieboom Road. Goliath says the public order police unit responded to the scene where protestors were burning tyres and cables.

“The crowd was dispersed with rubber bullets. No injuries were reported,” he says.

Police opened a case of public violence. No arrests were made.

According to social media reports various vehicles were damaged during the protest, including a City vehicle.

Ernest Sonnenberg, Mayco member for utility services, confirms the protest.

“We are aware of the incident and can confirm that staff were in the area on Tuesday 29 November to cut illegal electricity connections. The operation to remove illegal connections in Jim-se-Bos and Egoli resulted in violent protest action, causing damage to electricity infrastructure servicing the area.

“Electricity vehicles carrying staff were stoned and damaged and some of our staff were hurt in the process,” Sonnenberg says.

He adds the extent of the damage must still be determined because the “area is still volatile”.

As the area is known for its illegal electricity connections, Sonnenberg says, the City of Cape Town has to disconnect these connections often.

“Legal electricity consumers experience, on average, between five and six outages a week as a result of the illegal connections in Jim-se-Bos and Egoli.

“The two settlements account for about 2000 illegal connections, with an estimated loss of 6kW hours per connection per day,” he says.

This comes to a loss of income to the City of about R650 000 a month.

Cost of repairs“The City also has to account for the increased cost of repairs following vandalism of the electricity infrastructure and the associated overtime to effect repairs. Damage to electrical equipment has cost at least R1m over the last three years in Egoli and R1m over two years in Jim-se-Bos,” Sonnenberg says.

Sonnenberg explains both informal settlements are situated on private land in the Schaapkraal area and therefore cannot be electrified.

“The community has unfortunately resorted to connecting their structures illegally to the grid and vandalising distribution infrastructure in the area. This is also affecting power supply to neighbouring communities on a regular basis.”

Sonnenberg says residents who attempt to make illegal connections, in addition to the risk of injury or death, also affect the legally connected customers whose electricity is often disrupted as a result of these connections.

Sonnenberg says the fine is R2000 for any illegal electricity connections.

“However, illegal connections result in damage to electricity reticulation infrastructure equipment and therefore could also be prosecuted under the Criminal Matters Act which has very stiff sentences of up to 15 years imprisonment,” he says.

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