South Africa: Residents of Informal Settlement in Philippi Demand Electrification

South Africa: Residents of Informal Settlement in Philippi Demand Electrification

City of Cape Town says permission must be obtained from PRASA, which owns the land the settlement is on

Dozens of shack dwellers marched to their ward councillor’s office demanding electrification in Ethembeni, Samora Machel, on Friday. Samora Machel is a township in Philippi, Cape Town.

The protesting residents marched down OR Tambo Drive to Weltevreden Valley Hall where the office of ward councillor Sithembiso Mzobe (ANC) is located.

They sung songs and waved placards that read: “Mzobe prove your leadership”, “We voted for nothing”, and “We want electricity”.

“Do you know where Ethembeni is?” community leader Siyabulela Lali, who led the protest, asked Mzobe. “I spoke to your assistant the other day and she didn’t know where Ethembeni is.”

“We want you to make a commitment that you will ensure that we get electricity soon,” Lali told the ward councillor.

Mzobe said the “right place” for the residents to hand over their memorandum was the City of Cape Town offices at the Civic Centre.

Residents responded: “Take the memorandum to the City yourself.”

Lali said the residents settled in Ethembeni informal settlement in 1997, but they still don’t have electricity. He said residents, mostly poor and unemployed, spent hundreds of rands a month on illegal connections to nearby houses located 300 metres away.

South Africa: Residents of Informal Settlement in Philippi Demand Electrification

Resident Nomthetho Mabuya said: “Other informal settlements have communal taps, why don’t we have them?”

Mzobe said he would arrange a meeting with the leaders of the shack dwellers to discuss the issues.

Nomzamo Vimbi said they want the City to put in flush toilets. “We are so tired of the smelly and sweltering chemical toilets that we sometimes choose relieving ourselves in the bushes.”

Mzobe said shacks are clustered too closely together for the City to install communal taps and flush toilets. He also said the land is meant for road construction.

Weeks before the protest, resident Monica Notshokovu said living without proper electrification is hard. She has a 5-year-old disabled son who is incontinent. She has to clean him with ice cold water. “When I bathe him with freezing water, my heart breaks,” she said.

She lives off a disability grant as she cannot leave her son alone to go out in search of work.

Mayoral Committee Member for Area South, Councillor Eddie Andrews, said Ethembeni is located on PRASA-owned land.

“The City is in the process of preparing a ‘bulk submission’ to request permission to electrify a number of pockets located on PRASA-owned land, including this one,” he said.

“The City must first get permission from PRASA to install electricity connections,” he said.

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