Rubber bullets fired as City Power removes illegal power connections in Alexandra
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Cape Town – Angry protesters in Alexandra barricaded the road with rocks and burning tires yesterday where power utility City Power once again embarked on an operation to remove illegal electricity connections.
London Road in Alexandra saw the wrath of angry protesters who barricaded the road with rocks and burning tyres.
The power utility conducted an operation to cut off illegal connections in Alexandra with a focus on River Park, and the informal settlements along London Road. This comes months after City Power was forced to abandon an operation to remove illegal connections, fearing for the safety of their employees, in the area after residents protested in February this year.
City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the illegal connections are causing an overload on the network resulting in many residents paying for damages to their TVs and refrigerators.
“An electricity box which is installed by City Power can only cater for about 10 households but informal settlements are set-up across the community resulting in more than 50 people depending on one electricity box resulting in either an explosion of power boxes or damages to appliances,” explained Mangena.
After illegal connections were disconnected and wires removed, residents started throwing stones and burning tires to prevent officials from doing their job. The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) who formed part of the operation then opened fire on protesters by shooting rubber bullets to try and disperse the crowd.
Simangele Khulakade, a community member in River Park, said she has been running a business from her home for the past month and since her electricity has been disconnected she does not know how she will make an income.
“A promise was made by City Power’s spokesperson in which he promised that he will not disconnect the electricity after this has happened five times already. Today they are here disconnecting the electricity. We have been lied to,” exclaimed Khulakade.
Another resident, Godfrey Phalame, expressed his frustration towards the power utility and said that he would be among those who do not vote in this year's local government elections.
“We have been living here for the past three years, and according to City Power we are on a database and we should receive electricity but this does not happen. We are willing to pay for electricity but the elongated process is the result of illegal connections in this area,” said Phalame.
In Mangena’s defence, he said he told the residents that they would not disconnect the electricity on “that day”, this was because the power utility had to wait on engagements with the city to conclude before disconnecting the illegal electricity connections.
Meanwhile, it was reported late yesterday (on Tuesday) that one person was killed in the clashes between the Alexandra residents and the security officials at Alex Mall.
EWN reported that a wounded person was rushed to a hospital in Edenvale but was declared dead on arrival. The Gauteng police, however, could not confirm whether someone had died to The Star at the time of publication.