Give us electricity or move us, says Mamelodi community

Most residents at Phomolong informal settlement rely on illegal connections

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Rebecca Ramalekana runs a daycare centre in Phomolong informal settlement in Mamelodi. She says she has no choice but to rely on illegal connections to care for the infants. Photo: Warren Mabona

Rebecca Ramalekana runs a daycare centre at Phomolong informal settlement in Mamelodi and relies on illegal electricity connections to run her business.

The informal settlement was established in 2001 on land owned by the City of Tshwane and is currently home to about 7,000 people. Walking through the area, it is easy to spot the many illegal wires on poles and directly above most of the shacks. Most of the wires are connected to the neighbouring RDP houses in Extension 10.

Ramalekana and her family have lived here since 2004 and there has never been formal electrification. “There are many illegal electricity connections in this place. We are scared of them … I’m worried that my family or these kids I look after might be electrocuted,” she says. “The government must give us proper electricity or move us to another land.”

Ramalekana says the many unplanned power outages they experience make preparing meals and running education activities difficult. Her daughter also takes medication that needs to be kept refrigerated.

Avela Mjungula said the illegal connections put lives at risk and people are desperate for formal electrification. “Some of these cables are often damaged by strong winds and fall onto the ground while they still have power,” says Mjungula.

“These cables can kill us and our animals. If the government gives us electricity today, I’m sure that myself and other people who installed these cables will remove them.”

Sello Chipu, of the City of Tshwane’s human settlements department, told GroundUp that 600 stands in the formalised part were provided with pre-paid electricity meters by the City in 2020 and 2021.

Chipu said another part of Phomolong Extension 6, with 480 stands, is still in the process of being formalised. He did not give a timeframe for when this process is likely to be completed.

City spokesperson Selby Bokaba appealed to Phomolong residents to respect the City’s infrastructure in order to avoid people getting electrocuted. He said the City is removing illegal electricity connections but it is a challenge to reach every part of the city.

TOPICS:  Electricity

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