Category Archives: siyathuthuka

The Post: Illegal power cuts puts area in darkness – Sub-station bombed

Illegal power cuts puts area in darkness
Sub-station bombed

August 27, 2008 Edition 1


AN INTIMIDATING note, left behind after a sub-station, which generates electricity in Maynard Road, Sea Cow Lake, was blown up, has sparked fear among residents.

The note, according to the concerned community who believe those responsible for blowing up the sub-station were from a nearby informal settlement, stated: “If we cannot have electricity no one can”.

The incident occurred last Wednesday night and no arrests have been made. Municipal workers repaired the sub-station and restored electricity three days later, according to frustrated resident Roy Thakurdin, 57, a self-employed businessman, who complained they are “constantly in darkness” due to frequent and illegal power cuts by vandals.

When POST visited the area recently, residents complained they had witnessed informal settlers, who reside adjacent to Maynard Road, illegally dig the road to run electrical cables, so they could obtain electricity from light poles to the informal settlement.

Residents’ electricity cuts off at least four times a week, leaving them with minimum power of four hours per day.

“This problem started two years ago before the Eskom power cuts and has recently escalated to daily power cuts.

“As ratepayers we are entitled to electricity. I tried to contact the municipality and our ward councillor, but received no response. If the matter is not dealt with, residents are going to form a trust account via an attorney and deposit our money meant for rates into that account until the problem is resolved,” said Thakurdin.

Bimal Maharaj, 47, a Hindu priest of Maynard Road, said: “I am fed up! Two Sundays ago our electricity was interrupted four times. I tried to take the issue up with the city manager, Mike Sutcliffe, and our ward councillor, Rabi Gobind, but there has been no improvement.

“The squatters’ electricity problems are the municipality’s concern, not ours. We want our electricity to be connected all the time.”

A grade 12 pupil of Effingham Secondary School, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, said: “Last Thursday night I was printing work off my computer for the next day’s moderation when the lights went out.

“I have been reduced to studying by candle light which is frustrating. I am concerned about my performance in the current trial examination.”

A Telkom quality officer, said: “The electricity issue has been raging for months.

“I sent several e-mails to the municipality but have received no response.

“If the municipality can provide water and sanitation for squatters, why can’t they provide us with electricity?”

A part-time 42-year-old teacher said: “I am cooking on a gas stove and simple tasks like preparing a meal has become difficult. The food in our refrigerator is often spoilt.”

The area’s ward councillor, Rabi Gobind, said he had raised the community’s electricity concerns with council. The matter was addressed by the Infrastructure Committee which requested an official investigation into the matter.

“Once the investigation is complete and we receive permission from council to contact the land owners, in which the informal settlers are currently occupying, we can request their permission to install temporary electricity boxes on their properties, which will provide power for the settlement.”

Govind, a resident of Effingham Heights, added: “This is a lengthy process and will take time.

“I am sympathetic towards the problems residents face and am trying to resolve the issues speedily.”

Sew Harilal, the deputy head of electricity sales and service at the eThekwini Municipality, said: “We have cleared out squatters alongside the Kenville area, where residents are experiencing similar illegal power cuts and, like Kenville, we are trying to introduce 24-hour security patrols in Sea Cow Lake. These security checks will help identify the culprits.”

Nathi Nkwanyana, a senior manager of Revenue Protection of the electricity department, said security checks in Sea Cow Lake would start this week.

“We have requested more teams to join the patrol so more areas can be covered,” said Nkwanyana.

“The council is trying to allocate land for housing for informal settlers, not only in Sea Cow Lake, but all areas that face similar problems.

“If these plans progress, we will introduce an electricity card system, known as a prepaid meter, which does not require any type of connection.”

Solidarity: 11 arrests as the Siyathuthuka settlement (Durban) resists evictions

Police fire rubber bullets
Chaos as shack dwellers go on rampage

The Mercury

October 05, 2007 Edition 2


Chaos erupted in Durban’s Sea Cow Lake area yesterday as police clashed with informal dwellers, who were burning tyres and logs in an illegal protest.

The protesters would not allow people to go to work.

The protest, during which roads were blockaded, was sparked by the demolition of the informal residents’ shacks by the Housing Department and the municipality.

A representative of the Siyathuthuka informal settlement, Freedom Mncama, said before he was arrested with about 11 others: “We have been living here for 13 years, but they are demolishing our homes without giving us alternative accommodation. We have children here. Where must they go?”

Mncama said that some shacks were demolished two weeks ago and the municipal shack demolishing unit had on Wednesday marked more shacks with red crosses to be demolished.

Another shack dweller, M’du Mboyise, said he understood that they were wrong to take the law into their own hands.

“We were wrong in our approach, but why did they have to arrest us and shoot us, because we did not assault any police officer or threaten them? We are also people, but we are being treated like animals,” he said.

Residents of the area said the informal dwellers began burning tyres, picketing and shouting slogans at about 6am.

They complained that the angry mob, whose members carried knobkierries and other traditional weapons, would not let people past them to go to work.

“They were very threatening and wouldn’t let any one through. We understand that they have grievances, but why do they have to inconvenience us too? Our children did not go to school, but theirs did because they could walk through,” said a resident.

Police Supt Muzi Mngomezulu said police were dispatched to the area to control the situation. “Police went to the area and the 11 arrested have been charged with public violence,” he said.

Mngomezulu said the protesters were warned several times by the police to disperse, because they were holding an illegal gathering, but they responded by throwing stones and fuelling the fires on the road.

The police retaliated by firing rubber bullets. One protester was seen with a wound to the head.

KwaZulu-Natal Housing Department spokesman Lennox Mabaso said officials would have to investigate the matter and get details of circumstances from the eThekwini Municipality before any decision or action was taken.

“We want to reiterate that it is illegal to erect new shacks at this stage, because it contravenes the Prevention of the Emergence of Slums Act, which states that, as from October 1, any shacks erected would be considered illegal.

“The only shacks recognised are those that were identified before the Act came into being,” he said.


Sunday Tribune (Herald Supplement)

Residents caught up in protest chaos

October 07, 2007 Edition 1

Doreen Premdev

Protesting shack dwellers held families hostage in their homes in Sea Cow Lake this week.

Terrified home owners barricaded themselves in as shack dwellers blocked the roads leading out of Boxwood and Crow Place with burning tyres, knocking down lampposts and setting them alight in protest against the eThekwini Municipality’s threat to demolish “illegal” shacks on Thursday.

A resident, who did not want to be named, said by 8am on Thursday, crowds from the informal settlement had gathered on the roadside and clouds of black smoke billowed from burning tyres.

“Some of my neighbours leaving for work were stopped. It was scary and we could not understand what was going on. We were scared that they would turn on the residents.

“People went back into their homes and locked themselves in, waiting for the police to arrive. The protesters continued to riot on the roadside.”

Silindile Sikhosana, who has lived in the informal settlement for eight years, said the shack dwellers were desperate.

“These people just did not know what to do or where to go. They have families and would be left homeless if the municipality destroyed all their homes. As it is, we struggle to survive here.

“The protest was not meant to get violent, but emotions were running high and some of the protesters may have got out of hand,” said Sikhosana. “Although the shacks were not destroyed, the municipality will be back tomorrow to bring them down. And these people will be left homeless.”

Greenwood Park police spokesman Insp Elvis Naidoo said the 400-odd protesters had become violent and police had used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse them. Naidoo said eight people had been arrested and charged with public violence, illegal gathering and assaulting a police officer.
“Police had to calm the crowds down, as some of them started to get violent. It is understandable as this is a sensitive issue. However, we need to find an amicable solution.”

A meeting was held at the Greenwood Park Police Station on Friday afternoon to discuss a way to settle the conflict between the illegal shack dwellers and the municipality.

Housing department head Couglan Pather said that, in keeping with the provincial Slum Clearance Act, the municipality did not allow the building of new shacks, and these had been targeted.

“The old shacks can stay until we can find low-cost housing to accommodate these people,” Pather said.

“The municipality monitors the shacks by numbering them. Field workers also go out and regularly monitor these settlements. The municipality will take down only new structures.

“There are 160 000 shacks in the city and there is a 10-year plan to get rid of them and provide low-cost homes,” Pather said.

“But this will be impossible if the shacks continue to mushroom. People have been waiting on the housing list for many years and the city is trying its best to keep to its promise and deliver these homes.”