Jika Joe blamed for power outages

2010-03-19 00:00

RESIDENTS of Alison Homes Trust in Burger Street blame illegal connections at the nearby Jika Joe informal settlement for ongoing electricity cuts, and say municipal staff are not doing enough to fix the problem.

Resident Maureen James said she had to bathe her paralysed husband at a neighbour’s home and take food from her home to the neighbour’s freezer after power cuts that lasted for hours on Wednesday and yesterday.

James said electricity went off at 8.45 am on Wednesday and came back at noon, only to go off again at 6.30 pm until 8.45 am yesterday, and then went off yet again.

“At about 4 pm, it came back and even before I could say ‘thank you, Lord’ it just went off again. This is painful because some of us are sickly old people living here and it doesn’t seem to bother the municipality.

“We have reported the problem and every time it is fixed, it comes back again in no time.

“We know that the cause is illegal connections by the people living down across the road, but nothing is done about it,” said James.

Another resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she saw a municipal vehicle at the corner of Masukwana and Burger streets and approached the workers to complain.

“I could see the bare wiring and the workers were not doing a thing about that. Instead, as I was pointing to the wires, some young women threw stones at me, telling me to get lost. The municipal employees did not seem to have been paying attention to the wires.

“Every time the municipality comes here to fix this, they know that the illegal wiring will be re-connected,” said the resident.

The Witness asked a resident of the settlement if he is stealing electricity. He denied that he does and added that the municipality should explain the situation in the area.

“I don’t blame those who make illegal connections. How do you put people in a place without the basic necessities? Our neighbours have electricity and their transformers run right in front of our settlement. What do you expect people to do in such a situation? The municipality must fix the problem. We are also people and we deserve a better life,” said the man.

Asked for comment, Msunduzi process manager for electricity Maxwell Mthembu referred The Witness to acting deputy municipal manager Thokozani Maseko, who would not comment immediately, but asked for an e-mail to be sent to his secretary.

Ward 33 councillor Peter Green (DA) said municipal employees have been threatened by Jika Joe residents.

“Illegal connections are dangerous and it is sad to have people risking their lives by doing this while we have been into this democracy for years now,” he said.

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