Gqeberha township without power since Wednesday

Residents of Govan Mbeki Village block major road, demanding electricity, water and toilets

By Mkhuseli Sizani

6 June 2022

Protesters from Govan Mbeki Village shut down the R75 on Monday morning, demanding that the municipality provide them with electricity, toilets and water. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

Peak hour traffic was brought to a standstill on R75 Uitenhage Road on Monday by about 100 protesting residents from Govan Mbeki Village in Gqeberha. They are demanding that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality give them electricity, water, and toilets and relocate some of their shacks to municipal service sites.

The informal settlement was started in 2017 by mostly backyard dwellers from Zwide, Veeplaas and Soweto-on-Sea.

Jazz Nantu, community leader, said: “We have been demanding the electrification of our shacks in order to stop izinyoka connections that burn our houses. Last Wednesday our transformer exploded because the demand for electricity is high. We reported this to our ward councillor and municipality. But the municipal workers arrived on Saturday and said they were only dealing with emergencies.”

Nantu said for years the municipality has told them that Govan Mbeki is overcrowded. “They always also say some of us need to be relocated in order to make space for the electrification of our shacks. But when we ask them to relocate us, nothing is done,” he said.

He said about 700 shacks share three working standpipes. “During the outbreak of Covid-19 we were meant to get 37 mobile toilets but we only got 10. This is disgusting because 30 families can’t share one toilet. We demand 150 toilets,” he said.

Nomimi Sokani, 56, said that when there is no electricity, her family has to collect wood in order to cook. “Paraffin is too expensive and we survive on social grants. Food prices have also increased. This year five shacks have been burnt,” she said.

Ward 33 councillor Mzwandile Sidina (ANC) said all the residents’ complaints were reported to the municipality. “Municipal workers are currently fixing the transformer and the damaged cable. The infrastructure department is meeting the contractor that supplied the first 10 toilets to address this problem.”

Sidina said the human settlements department was still in the process of looking for land to relocate some of the residents.