Residents vow not to vote over Alexandra power struggle

With the local government elections drawing closer, residents have raised concerns about a lack of service delivery in their community, saying electricity provision was at the top of their list.

Alexandra residents say they won't vote in the upcoming local government elections after City Power removed illegal electricity connections in the area. Picture: Dominic Majola/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Alexandra residents on Sunday vowed not to vote during the local government elections as they continue their protest over the disconnection of illegal electricity lines by the municipality.

Last week, City Power disconnected illegal cables in the London Road and River Park areas. The illegal connections have resulted in several people being electrocuted recently.

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Alex residents pay up to R2000 for illegal power connections

Alex residents claim electricity promise was broken

With the local government elections drawing closer, residents have raised concerns about a lack of service delivery in their community, saying electricity provision was at the top of their list.

They have complained that the government only ever makes them empty promises.

One of the residents questioned how living conditions have still not changed for them after 27 years of democracy, describing their homes as makeshift structures.

Home to about 850 households, the community near London Road only had 18 mobile toilets and two communal taps where people need to queue to access water.

One resident said they'd run out of patience: “When they want our votes, they tell you something else. We are not going to vote, how are going to without electricity?”

Phindile Mbetu, a community leader in Greenville said: “We are pleading for electricity and flushing toilets. We just want our dignity restored. Right now, we feel so abandoned.”

The residents will come face-to-face with politicians in the coming weeks as electioneering intensifies.

With many promises made throughout the years, it will be interesting to see how politicians will handle the complex challenge in Alexandra.

DEATHS

Alexandra community members said they were in a very difficult situation as many continued to die trying to gain access to electricity.

Family members of those who have been killed expressed sadness, saying the same electricity they were using to try to make life easier had killed their loved ones.

Eyewitness News spoke to 22-year-old Anita Tebekwane whose daughter was killed when she came into contact with an illegal connection at one of the homes in their neighbourhood.

“She was two years old, going on three on 30 November - the same month that she died. I don’t want to talk about it anymore because it still hurts,” the sobbing mother said.

At another home just nearby, Sinaloa Mkweayi's six-year-old son was electrocuted in 2016.

“My son held an exposed electric wire, as we were rushing him to the clinic, he died on the way. It still hurts just thinking about it.”

Emergency management services said they had responded to six deaths related to illegal connections in the Alexandra area.

Despite the deaths and injuries, residents have been protesting against the disconnection of illegally connected lines.

Joburg City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said: “As City Power, we do what we’re supposed to do because we get sued over these issues.”

Eyewitness News also spoke to residents who said they would not stop illegal connections because having electricity was better and cheaper than using paraffin and candles.

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