Philippi electricity protest rages on

Residents flee police officers during a third day of protests in the Siyahlala informal settlement in Philippi. The protests centre on residents efforts to have the area supplied with electricity.

Residents of a Philippi informal settlement and police have clashed again as protests over electricity supply entered their third day.

Three police Nyalas cordoned off the corner of New Eisleben and Sheffield roads yesterday when protests, which started on Tuesday, flared up again in Siyahlala.

Residents set containers on fire and used them to block off sections of Sheffield Road, while teenagers and children lined the road, armed with rocks, watching for police.

Standing at a trench made by residents who had dug up a section of road, Tumeka Xoyana, 29, said they had no option but to protest because the area had been without electricity for more than 10 years. “We have to steal electricity because the government doesn’t want to give it to us,” said Xoyana.

Ezile Cele, 24, said police had fired rubber bullets and tear gas at them: “Why can’t they give us a valid reason why we can’t get electricity?”

She said residents were angered that the area had been “skipped” while neighbouring areas had received electricity.

Residents had made “countless” requests to their Ward 34 councillor and the municipality for electricity, she said.

The councillor had told residents they would not receive supply because of the illegal connections in the area.

Provincial police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel André Traut said that on two occasions during the protest, SAPS members had been duty-bound to take action against riotous crowds and gas cartridges were discharged.

Nobody had been injured and no arrests had been made, and police would remain in the area to monitor the situation.

City spokeswoman Kylie Hatton said the settlement was in a road reserve and that it was council policy not to create electrical networks in road reserves. “The city is, however, investigating various options, but I cannot provide details before everything has been investigated,” she said.


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