Power outage in Eastern Cape causes angry residents to hurl burning tyre at city hall

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  • Officials at Enoch Mgijima municipality were forced to flee after angry residents threw a burning tyre at the city hall.
  • Residents of the municipality's Mlungisi township complained about a power outage caused by an exploded cable.
  • The residents have also been enduring power interruptions over the municipality's outstanding Eskom debt.

Officials at Enoch Mgijima municipality in Komani, Eastern Cape, were forced to flee after angry residents threw a burning tyre into the entrance of the city hall because of a two-day power outage.

Footage circulating on social media on Wednesday shows a plume of smoke rising from the city hall's clock tower.

Municipal spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa said no one was injured in the incident, but a section of the entrance's floor was burnt.  

Workers had to use an emergency exit to evacuate the building because of the fire scare.

Kowa said there were about 24 protesters, who threw a burning tyre into the entrance of the building.

Firefighters were called and they put out the fire, said Kowa.

The residents are from Sondlo Street in the municipality's township of Mlungisi.  

ALSO READ | 18 broke Eastern Cape municipalities owe Eskom over R2bn for bulk electricity

An exploded power line knocked out the power supply to the street, leaving residents without power for two days, said Kowa.

"On the day of the explosion, our electricity department went to the scene and made a temporary solution to keep the lights on at the street, while we await an order of a power cable," said Kowa.

Kowa said the rain resulted in a second explosion, which brought the situation back to square one, and it led to the protest.

The municipality resolved to open a case of damage to property against the protesters.

A tense stand-off between municipal officials and angry protesters was defused by executive mayor Luleka Gubula.

"Protesters were addressed by the executive mayor Luleka Gubula. It was explained to them that the municipality was in the process of acquiring [a replacement for] the damaged cable - but, in the meantime, a temporary measure would be put in place until the cable is delivered. Power was restored through the temporary solution and a permanent solution is expected on Friday."

The faulty cable adds to the electricity woes of residents, who have frequently endured deliberate power supply interruptions by Eskom.

The power utility is trying to force Enoch Mgijima council to pay its outstanding debt for bulk electricity supply.   

The municipality leads the pack of 18 broke Eastern Cape municipalities, which owe Eskom a staggering amount of money for electricity supply.

Some of the worst culprits are:

  • Walter Sisulu municipality - R294 million
  • Raymond Mhlaba municipality - R205 million
  • Inxuba Yethemba municipality - R193 million
  • King Sabatha Dalindyebo municipality - R165 million
  • Dr Beyers Naude municipality - R141 million
  • Makana municipality - R37 million
  • Amahlathi municipality - R25 million

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