Every month Kockjeu Mpiyake pays about R300 in order to run electricity from an illegal connection to a nearby RDP house.
Mpiyake, who lives in Ekuphumleni informal settlement in Du Noon, uses it to lighting and to power his television and radio, but cannot use other electrical appliances such as a washing machine, electric heater or stove.
The RDP house he is illegally connected to supplies electricity to ten other shacks, resulting in frequent power cuts due to overloading.
Having been in this situation for nine years, 61-year-old Mpiyake, who has nine children and two wives, has had enough.
He joined over 100 other residents in a march to the Eskom office in Table View on Thursday morning to protest against the lack of electricity supply to their area.
Carrying knobkieries and placards stating “No more waiting. We want electricity”, the residents gave Eskom officials an ultimatum to install electricity in their area within a week or they would uproot and burn electricity poles in the township.
Mpiyake said what angered the residents was that Eskom had promised to supply electricity to the informal settlement in 2009 but had not honoured their promise.
“People use candles and paraffin stoves and when they are drunk they leave the candle and the stove burning which result in shack fires,” said Mpiyake.
Nobongile, Mfuniseli, 55, said she had been paying about R300 a month for electricity simply to light her shack.
Mfuniseli said she had to use a paraffin stove for cooking and heating, resulting in a persistent cough from the fumes.
She said if she could afford to pay for illegal electricity she could afford to pay for legal electricity meter.
Bruce Jongile, 29, the constant danger of shack fires due to illegal connections and the use of paraffin stoves meant residents were afraid to buy goods to improve their standard of living as there was always a chance they would lose everything in a fire.
Community leader Chris Matomera said Eskom had promised to electrify their informal settlement in 2009 and undertaken to engage with residents on a monthly basis, but this had not happened.
Eskom Western Cape spokesperson Jolene Henn said the informal settlement was on Eskom’s priority list and would be electrified this year.
Henn said funds were available in their 2011/12 budget to be used for this purpose.
“You can’t just go into an area and put a line in. We explained to them how the process works and it takes some time. Funds are available for electrification of the area,” said Henn
She said electricity would be provided to 300 households by the end of the current financial year. – Peter Luhanga