Village in the dark since the dawn of democracy

Vuyisile Khabiqheya, 23, has lived his whole life without electricity.

He says he has to walk a kilometre, from Phelandaba in the Eastern Cape to Mmangweni, to charge his phone.

The small village of Phelandaba, established in 1993, has been waiting for electricity for more than 24 years, GroundUp reported.

"Sometimes we fear that we might miss important calls while our phones are on charge, as some of us are still job hunting," said Khabiqheya.

Eastern Cape
Phelandaba has 85 households. "We have not tasted the freedom others are tasting," says one villager. (Photo: Yamkela Ntshongwana, GroundUp)

"When the sun sets, we see other homes enjoying the privilege of access to lights. But as for us, nothing," he said.

Another villager, Nokuphumla Mashiyane, said: "We have not tasted the freedom others are tasting… Our municipality has failed us."

Villagers say that their councillor promised that, once the village expanded to 50 households, the Intsika Yethu municipality would bring electricity.

Phelandaba now has about 85 households.

The municipality has provided water taps, but villagers say electricity is a priority.

Read more: Wallacedene fire victims wait months for Eskom to restore electricity

In Qamata Great place, outside Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape, a number of villages near Phelandaba - such as Mmangweni, Elixeni and Mgongxo - have been connected to the grid.

Village elders say young people leave to go to the city where there is electricity for computers and cellphones.

In February 2017, youth from the area marched to the local municipal offices.

Spokesperson for the Intsika Yethu Municipality Zuko Tshangana said Eskom had already placed pins to mark out the installation planned for the 2018/2019 year. Tshangana said the process had started on April 1.

He said Eskom was busy with the procurement process for construction.

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