Mass protest in city

2015-06-22 14:34

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FED-UP residents will have an ­opportunity tomorrow to express their outrage over Eskom’s proposed huge electricity hike.

Preparations for a massive march in the city protesting Eskom’s proposed 25,3% electricity increase are well ­under way.

Citizens, civics, religious groups, small businesses, unions, student movements, NGOs and social justice and political groups have formed a coalition to protest the hike.

“The protest has been organised to object to Eskom and compel the ­national energy regulator to turn down the proposal,” said Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) member Julie Smith.

The group is expecting thousands of people to take part in the march, which begins at Dales Park tomorrow.

“We are gatvol with Eskom’s load shedding and blackouts. Now Eskom wants us to pay more for electricity. We cannot afford to pay, our pockets are empty. This is 25,3% too far,” said Smith.

People are expected to gather at Dales Park at 10 am where the march to city hall will begin. People may also join the group outside the hall at 1.30 pm where a memoranda will be handed over to Nersa, Eskom and Msunduzi Municipality.

In Pietermaritzburg, the 25,3% ­increase will move the monthly ­electricity expenditure for households on prepaid meters (using a low average of 350 kWh per month) from R465,50 to R584,50.

Pacsa argues that an increase in ­electricity tariffs will directly impact on price of food purchased and cause an increase in electricity theft.

“The effect of Eskom’s increase is that hundreds of thousands of households will be forced to disconnect themselves from electricity because they will no longer be able to afford it.

“This will expose households to the cold, respiratory and other related health problems. It will roll back the gains since 1994 of electrifying ­households and providing households with a level of dignity. Our pockets can no longer fund Eskom,” said Smith.

Today, DA leader Mmusi Maimane will be briefing media houses in ­Johannesburg on the party’s opposition to the proposed electricity hike.

Maimane will be joined by DA ­shadow minister of public enterprises Natasha Mazzone and DA shadow ­minister of energy Gordon Mackay.

When: Tomorrow, June 23

Where: From Dales Park (corner of Mayors Walk and Pine Street) to ­Pietermaritzburg City Hall

Time: Meet at Dales Park at 10 am to begin march at 11.30 am OR join group outside City Hall at 1 pm.

INFORMAL settlers burnt tyres and debris, blocking New Greytown Road near Copesville on Saturday, when municipal security officials arrived to disconnect illegal electricity cables in the area.

Residents living in Orient Heights, alongside the New Greytown Road, said they heard the “commotion” start at around 11 am.

“We could hear the clapping and whistling and shouting and when I looked over I could see the crowds gathering,” said an Aquarius Drive resident who did not wish to be named in fear of victimisation.

It is believed municipal security officers stormed the area searching for illegal electricity connections.

“We cannot afford electricity so we have to find other ways to get it. The municipality does not worry about us. We also have children and families,” said a Swapo B informal settler after the protest.

The resident said police quickly arrived and calmed the situation while directing traffic.

“The police were commendable. They took control of the situation and really worked well,” said the resident.

Msunduzi fire department were on scene and extinguished the burning debris before clearing the road to allow for free flowing traffic

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  eskom  |  electricity

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