Electriciy theft: city residents hit by outages again

2010-06-02 00:00

BURGER Street residents who are plagued by frequent electricity blackouts allegedly caused by illegal electricity connections made by Jika Joe residents, say they are at their wits’ end.

Yesterday, about 20 houses had been without electricity since Monday morning.

“We were without electricity the whole of yesterday, last night and today. We were lucky that our food in the fridge has not been spoiled because it is winter,” said resident Smile Silli.

Residents of the nearby Jika Joe informal settlement have been accused of assaulting a Msunduzi Municipality technician with a brick and damaging a municipal car. The technician was in the area fixing an electricity fault.

The technician said, “I came with police this evening to disconnect illegal wires from electricity consumer distribution unit box. I can never come here alone. Look at this car. It was damaged when these people [pointing at Jika Joe] attacked me with stones.”

In the past few months, illegal connections have repeatedly interrupted the electricity supply in the area. Residents in Prince Alfred and Burger streets frequently complain of blackouts and the municipality has removed the illegal connections on several occasions.

A Burger Street resident said yesterday, “Every five hours the electricity comes back on for five minutes and it goes out again, and the municipality says it’s because when the technicians connect it, the people immediately make the illegal connections that cause the electricity to trip.”

The resident said they have had to deal with this problem since the begining of the year, and at times the electricty goes off three times a week.

She said that while they understand the plight of the Jika Joe residents, she and her neighbours should not be made to suffer blackouts, because it is the municipality’s responsibility to provide electricity.

Maxwell Mthembu, the municipal process manager for electricity, confirmed that one of his employees was injured when he was hit with a brick.

He described the electricity situation in that area as a big headache.

“We have been to that area to turn back on the electricity at least three times, and we are going back now and I can assure you, by 5 pm it will be out again.”

Mthembu said they the municipality is trying to find a permanent solution. “We are looking at putting another cable for the Burger Street residents where it would be impossible for the Jika Joe people to continue stealing the electricity.”

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