Villagers call for action on Jika Joe

2016-11-10 09:28
Illegal electricity cables and connections has caused a rift between the formal and informal residents living in The Village and Jika Joe area.

Illegal electricity cables and connections has caused a rift between the formal and informal residents living in The Village and Jika Joe area. (Supplied)

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As angry residents of The Village and Jika Joe on Wednesday faced off with only a stretch of dirt road to separate them, Villagers say they warned the municipality as far back as 2012 that Jika Joe’s housing and electricity situation would see the area erupt into a “war zone”.

The Village is the formal area situated adjacent to Jika Joe informal settlement.

Speaking on behalf of the formal residents living in The Village, Ridwaan Fenner said they foresaw the problem and tried to alert the municipality to no avail.

The Witness has in its possession numerous e-mails sent by irate residents to Msunduzi municipality expressing the formal residents’ concerns over the years.

“Once we saw a few informal houses coming up, residents started e-mailing and calling the municipality to find out their plan. Until today, there has been no way to solve the issue and we are left fending for our lives,” Fenner said.

In an e-mail in 2012 one resident requested the municipal manager visit the area. “There have been new informal settlements that have been erected near to the road. Our concern is where will their water and dirt be thrown?” said the resident who asked not to be named. The resident expressed concern that if the situation was not handled it could worsen. In an e-mail in 2014 another resident said there was a standoff between formal and informal residents over illegal electricity connections.

“Please, I implore you, may I please have a response as to what is going on, what is the problem, how long can we expect to be without electricity?” read the e-mail.

The resident said tyres were burnt and stones were hurled at the formal residents.

“Illegal tampering is rife. Since then I have had no feedback. My e-mails, smses and WhatsApp messages are never answered. I am using R100 a day in vouchers for my cell as my limit has been reached,” he wrote in his e-mail to municipal managers and his ward councillor.

Fenner said the municipality has shown a lack of interest in their plight.

He said the community understood the challenges the municipality faced, but “the municipality needs to understand the challenges we are facing daily”.

Fenner said the formal residents have been more than patient despite having been threatened and even having seen an innocent animal killed in a ploy to scare residents. “Shots have been fired because the informal settlement that you as a municipality has failed to maintain has been connecting electricity illegally,” read his e-mail to the municipality this year.

He said The Village and Jika Joe area is left in disrepair which showed “that truly no one cares for the [rate-]paying residents”.

“It is a political game and we the residents are the pawns,” he said.

Delving into the recent spate of illegal electricity connections, Fenner said there were times when the municipality did not send anyone to reconnect the formal residents as municipal workers were too afraid to enter the area. “How are we as residents supposed to continue to pay for a service where we are cut off at least every day of the week?” he said.

Although there were many times when the municipality did raid the informal settlements for illegal connections, Fenner said cords are placed back on overheard cables “the very same night”.

Read more on:    the village  |  pietermaritzburg  |  jika joe

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