Residents demanding electricity take to the streets of Motherwell

2020-02-05 22:07
Residents ripped down an IEC banner and disrupted the Ncedo voting station in Motherwell on Wednesday. (Thamsanqa Mbovane, GroundUp)

Residents ripped down an IEC banner and disrupted the Ncedo voting station in Motherwell on Wednesday. (Thamsanqa Mbovane, GroundUp)

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About 200 residents of Motherwell in Port Elizabeth took to the streets on Wednesday, demanding the electrification of their shacks.

They blocked major routes leading to the suburb and taxis had to take the Swartkops route as there were fires on Addo Road. Heaps of rubble, including mattresses and sewer pipes, were also strewn across the roads.

The residents, who live in Nomakanjani, Wells Estate, Shukushukuma, Emahlabathini and other informal settlements, marched to Ncedo Secondary School, which is one of five voting stations in NU12 in ward 55.

By-elections for ward 55, following the death of ANC councillor Mzuvukile Boti, were underway, with the UDM, EFF, Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party and ANC contesting it.

Voters stared wide-eyed at the protesters.

"Shoot us!" a resident shouted as the police arrived in vans.

"No one is going to vote here!" said a protester, as voters leaned against walls opposite the voting station.

An IEC banner was ripped down by an angry protester who said: "When we vote the gates are open, but when we demand services, the gates are closed!"

The protesters then marched to a nearby municipal office where the mayco member for infrastructure and engineering, Andile Lungisa, was meeting with other ANC leaders.

Lungisa eventually came out flanked by bodyguards.

"Last Tuesday, we met all the committees of informal settlements to discuss the electrification issue and all the ward councillors of Motherwell were there. The meeting was held in ward 54," he told the crowd.

"We agreed that we as the government, we will commit ourselves in black and white within seven days … to electrify all the informal settlements.

"Now, we are shocked that there is a protest, while seven days will end tomorrow [Thursday]."

Residents flew into a rage and shouted: "Don’t lie. Seven days was yesterday! We want that written document of a commitment now!"

Lungisa said three people from each informal settlement in the metro had been called to City Hall on Tuesday [February 4] to be trained to do social surveying in the informal settlements.

"Human settlements has certain steps to follow. We must know the electricity box owners, house number, hence we asked you to give us three people from all [informal settlements]," said Lungisa.

Resident Asanda Vazi said: "We did go to City Hall where we were told we will undergo social survey training."

He alleged an official had tried to enlist them to pacify the community which they refused to do. "We don't want to be sell-outs," Vazi said.

Resident Nosisa Mbhixo confronted Lungisa: "The councillors of the ANC say when we burn tyres, they take it personally. They don't want to set foot in the wards. It's their fires that are burning and they must come and put it out."

IEC spokesperson Crossby Bacela said: "We would like to warn people not to fiddle with IEC materials as we had nothing to do with their grievances. The elections went well so far, despite this."

Read more on:    protests  |  service delivery
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