Jika Joe residents battle cops over disconnections

2010-03-26 00:00

RESIDENTS of the Jika Joe informal settlement in the lower CBD were yesterday engaged in running battles with police after they allegedly disconnected illegal electricity connections.

The disconnections come after numerous complaints from other residents near the settlement, who said the connections have put the electricity supply under severe strain, resulting in numerous power outages.

According to the residents, yesterday’s skirmish began last week when Msunduzi municipal electricians tried to remove the connections.

They were allegedly stoned by the residents. The police were called in and they used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.

Some residents sporting bruises allegedly sustained during that incident, said police were shooting indiscriminately.

Sifiso Mkhize, one of the injured, said he was not even part of the fracas when the police shot him.

“I was just coming out of my room and the police were just shooting.

“One of the bullets hit me in the arm and even now my arm is still swollen.”

After last Thursday’s skirmish, police returned in numbers yesterday to stand guard as municipal employees removed all the illegal connections.

There were at least nine police cars.

The angry residents resorted to throwing all the rubbish from the settlement into Masukwane (East) Street, demanding that the police remove all the rubbish, which they say was last collected before the municipal strike.

They blockaded the road with rubbish, old fencing and wood.

Police then sealed off the entrances to the settlements between Masukwane and Burger streets.

The police had to remove the rubbish themselves to open the roads.

Community leader Bheki Dladla said the residents threw rubbish on to the streets to vent their anger.

“The rubbish here has not been collected since the municipal strike, despite them paying for it to be removed, and the community is just angry about that.”

He said the residents will no longer siphon off electricity from the transformers as they were negotiating with the municipality to install proper meter boxes.

The process manager at the Msunduzi Municipality, Maxwell Mthembu, was not available for comment.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan confirmed that last Thursday, the police had an altercation with the residents after they had tried to stone municipal employees. She said the police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.

“A similar protest took place yesterday.

“However, no violent incidents were reported,” she said.

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