Gqeberha shack dwellers protest after electricity disconnected by RDP home owners

Residents of Baloyi informal settlement say two transformers installed in March have never been connected

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Residents of KwaBaloyi informal settlement in Motherwell, Gqeberha, burnt tyres on Wednesday afternoon, demanding electrification of their 190 shacks. Photos: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Dozens of people living in KwaBaloyi informal settlement in Motherwell, Gqeberha, burnt tyres on busy Addo Road on Wednesday afternoon. They were demanding formal electrification.

The demonstrators said this is the first time they are protesting since they occupied an area alongside Motherwell cemetery in 2018.

“We have been patient for too long,” shouted one protester.

Conditions are poor in Baloyi. There are about 190 shacks sharing eight standpipes for water. There are only ten chemical toilets and they are flooded when it rains.

Thembinkosi Stefans, from Baloyi, said, “Other informal settlements that came yesterday [already] have services, especially electricity, hence we rose up for the first time.”

For electricity, people in Baloyi have been using illegal connections to RDP houses and electricity poles in NU10. But the RDP residents started to disconnect the cables last week, saying it was causing blackouts, according to Tankiso Pohleni, who joined the protest.

Pohleni said two large transformers were installed in May but they have never been “switched on”.

Pohleni said almost everyone in the settlement is unemployed. He was retrenched in 2019 by a company that manufactured air-conditioners when the Covid pandemic struck. He said the company moved back to Germany.

On Thursday afternoon residents of Baloyi said they intended to negotiate with RDP owners to reconnect their cables, but RDP owners said this was impossible even were the shack dwellers to bring the President himself.

“We are not willing to reconnect them. They make our power weak and our appliances get damaged,” said one RDP homeowner.

Ward 56 Councillor Lubabalo Ludwabe (ANC) said Nelson Mandela Bay’s project managers from Electricity and Energy directorate had convened a mass meeting with Baloyi shack dwellers on Wednesday afternoon and that on Thursday (afternoon) they plan to electrify the shacks temporarily in a professional manner.

“This is part of our intervention to stop the unrest that is destroying our infrastructure. Destroying property has never been a solution,” he said.

Shack dwellers at Baloyi say these two transformers installed in May have never operated.

TOPICS:  Electricity

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