Sparks fly over plans to disconnect illegal electricity

AN attempt by Eskom to disconnect illegal electricity connections in Khayelitsha’s Island informal settlement sparked violent protests yesterday.

A car was set alight by a petrol bomb and a shipping container was pushed into the busy Lansdowne Road thoroughfare as about 200 residents scattered rubbish, burnt tyres and stoned passing cars.

The protests, which started mid-morning and only began to simmer down in the late afternoon, came after letters from Eskom were delivered to shacks in Island informal settlement yesterday, ordering residents to disconnect their illegal electricity connections or receive a fine of R5 000.

A web of wires illegally connecting the shacks to nearby RDP houses hangs over the informal settlement. Wires also run across the roads and are buried in shallow trenches in the sand.

But residents say they are not prepared to live without electricity and the City of Cape Town and Eskom need to provide proper connections in their area.

“We connected our lines in Site C’s D-section and some in TR section because Eskom doesn’t want to give us (electricity) boxes,” said resident Nomathamsanqa Kape, 36.

“Since 1989 we have been using illegal connections; every time when we ask Eskom for electricity they give us false promises. We were only trying to help ourselves because Eskom doesn’t care,” said Kape.

She said Eskom handed out letters on Wednesday giving residents 24 hours notice to disconnect illegal wiring.

She said residents were prepared to pay for legally supplied electricity as they already paid R200 per month on average to people whose houses they are connected to.

Provincial police spokesperson November Filander said two people had been arrested in connection with protests and charged with public violence. – West Cape News

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