We want to buy electricity, say East London residents

But the electricity transformer in Duncan Village burnt out three years ago

Photo of shacks

Duncan Village Site C in East London where residents have been without a legal electricity supply for three years. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

By Thembela Ntongana

26 October 2017

More than 50 households in C-section of Duncan Village, East London, have been living without electricity for more than three years. The supply transformer burnt out after illegal connections were made to it.

“They never replaced it,” said resident Lindiwe Memani. “They came and installed a smaller box instead, for the streetlights, which only worked for a week.” Residents had connected illegally to the new box as well.

“It is unfortunate that we have to resort to illegal connections because we are desperate for electricity. We want to buy our own electricity. We do not enjoy doing this because it is not safe,” said Memani.

She said a year ago her cousin had stepped on what she thought was a washing line. It was a wire from an illegal connection. She was electrocuted. GroundUp could not confirm the death, but was told the story separately by three people.

“They [government] are making us fight amongst ourselves because now we are connecting from electrical boxes in other areas,” said resident Mlungiseleli Dyani.

He said illegal connections cost more than paying for electricity from the municipality.

“You have to pay a lot of money to have it connected – from paying the person to buying the wires. Then the municipality comes and disconnects and you have to start from scratch,” said Dyani.

Residents say they have tried to get the councillor and the municipality to restore their electricity. In early September they protested and set fire to the office of the councillor.

Dyani and another resident, Mbongeni Mkhupheni, said they were told to wait to be moved to a housing development under construction in Reston.

“Not all of us are beneficiaries … Many of us will be left behind,” said Mkhupheni.

Ward 2 councillor Ntombizandile Mhlola said she had told officials responsible for electricity. “I have reported the matter to the officials and was told that there is no money yet to install a transformer,” said Mhlola. No timeframe was given to her as to when the electricity in the area could be restored.

The municipality had not responded to GroundUp at the time of publication.