Picket sparks City Hall action

Makana Municipality has appointed a consultant to assess the design and costs for supplying electricity to eTembeni, in Extension 7.

Makana Mayor Zamuxolo Peter revealed this after around 30 residents, together with members of the Unemployed People's Movement, picketed outside the city hall yesterday in a service-delivery campaign that began earlier this week.

The group had protested outside municipal buildings on Monday afternoon, demanding electricity for the informal settlement behind Benjamin Mahlasela Secondary School in Extension 7.

In yesterday's protest, the residents asked the mayor Zamuxolo Peter to write a letter of commitment - and he obliged, making his way to the Mayoral Committee Room accompanied by a group of residents.

In the letter, Peter said the municipality had appointed consultant Arcus GIBB Pty to conduct an assessment, including the design, cost estimates and fee structure to electrify eTembeni informal settlement.

This process will end on 31 May.

A meeting with Arcus GIBB and Eskom to discuss the second step of the project would be in June. Monday's protesters were divided in two groups: one was in front of the municipality and the other was next to PEP store.

They chanted struggle songs, carrying hand-written placards and emptied at least one rubbish bin in High Street.

One of the conveners, Thandeka Nombewu, said they had tried to discuss their need for electricity with officials, but nothing had been done.

"We were suppose to meet with the mayor, Zamuxolo Peter, last week but he didn't pitch," she said.

"What are we supposed to do when our leaders are running away from us?" Nombewu said they wanted electricity, houses and running water.

UPM organiser Ayanda Kota said people had been promised houses, electricity and running water after Zuma was elected in 2008.

"This picket is nothing but people demanding their dignity," Kota said on Monday.

He said they wanted a written commitment that electricity would be installed in eThembeni by a certain date.

Resident Xolisile Lukwe said the area was dark at night, making people vulnerable to attack. He said he had no neighbours today, because they'd died in a fire last year which was caused by a burning candle.

"The problem is that you cannot see tsotsis in the dark," Lukwe said. "They hide in dark corners with pangas, waiting for you to approach their corner. They have beaten us, robbed us and even raped our women."

Another resident, Ntemi Thuthani, said they lived in a place where crime was increasing every day.

"eThembeni is too dark and there are people who kick in our doors at night," she said. "People without electricity are people without life."

Municipal spokeperson, Mncedisi Boma, said they had been notified of the picket - but the gathering had been authorised for yesterday, not Monday.

No votes yet
ethembeni _1.JPG
ethembeni_4.JPG
SPEAKING OUT... Residents of eThembeni, a section of Extension 7 in Joza, demand housing and electricity in a picket on High Street on Monday afternoon. The protesters gathered in small groups of 15, because they did not have a permit for a large gathering. Photo: Michelle Morgan.
SPEAKING OUT... Residents of eThembeni, a section of Extension 7 in Joza, demand housing and electricity in a picket on High Street on Monday afternoon. The protesters gathered in small groups of 15, because they did not have a permit for a large gathering. Photo: Michelle Morgan.