'Everytime I look at these wires, I remember how my grandson died' - East London granny

2019-06-28 14:29
Residents in Amalinda Forest informal settlement in East London want the municipality to provide electricity. Several people have been electrocuted by illegal connections. (Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik)

Residents in Amalinda Forest informal settlement in East London want the municipality to provide electricity. Several people have been electrocuted by illegal connections. (Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik)

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"Everytime I look at these wires, I remember how my grandson died," says Khalipha Soso.

Her 11-year-old grandson, Zukhanye, was killed in 2017 by an illegal connection in the Amalinda Forest informal settlement in East London. He had been picking wild fruit with his friends when he touched a live wire, GroundUp reports.

A day after her grandson's funeral, residents blocked roads, demanding that the municipality supply the settlement with electricity. Their pleas have gone unanswered, said Soso.

Soso, who has lived in Amalinda Forest since 2002, said Zukhanye's death was not the first and wouldn't be the last caused by izinyoka (illegal connections). She said her grandson had been an avid young boxer.

"I thought, by now, the municipality would have put proper electricity in the area," said Soso.

Ward 16 councillor Mzukisi Relu, from the ANC, said at least six people had been electrocuted at the Amalinda and Cambridge informal settlements in the past three years. Relu said that, despite his attempts to get answers months ago from the Buffalo City Metro Municipality, he had been given the runaround.

"I had several meetings... every time a person dies due to illegal electricity connections," he said.

Relu said the illegal connections had also caused tension between residents living in formal houses and those in the informal settlements.

Relu said he was told that only a section of Amalinda Forest was on land owned by the municipality.

In Cambridge, GroundUp spoke to a teenager whose friend had died after being electrocuted at the local soccer field while walking home in 2018. "I no longer go to the field because of izinyoka," he said.

Cambridge ward committee member Lawrence Jiba said: "I also had several meetings with the municipality, begging them to electrify the shacks."

Questions sent to the municipality's spokesperson, Bathandwa Diamond, last week were unanswered still at the time of publication.

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