News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday September 15th 2019

Protest over lack of electricity causes damage to property


Rocks and debris blocked Lansdowne Road in Philippi on Saturday after residents of the Siyahlala informal settlement protested over lack of electricity in the area. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso/WCN

Parts of busy Lansdowne Road were closed for almost five hours on Saturday as residents burnt tyres and placed rocks in the road in protest over the lack of electricity in Philippi’s Siyhlala informal settlement.

Traffic lights at the corner of Lansdowne and NY 78 were damaged by fire, street signs were vandalised and vendors’ stalls were set alight.

Motorist had to use alternative routes to get to their destinations, as the protesters stoned passing cars.
Police had to use rubber bullets to disperse the violent crowd.
Protestor Nomziwoxolo Bhenguza, 43, said the protest was a result of “empty promises” by the City of Cape Town to install electricity in the area.
Bhenguza said they have been living in the informal settlement for more than 10 years and the City’s promise to install electricity in the area was not being kept by the officials. She said the only time they saw officials was when they came to disconnect illegal electricity connections. She said the residents had vowed to protest weekly until their demands are met.

“Resorting to violence and damaging governments’ property is the only solution to attract the attention of the government, we have no choice,” she said.
Motorist Luzuko Nkunzi, 34, said blocking the road and burning tyres was not the right approach.
“We motorists are feeling the consequences.  People have a right to protest and they should use those rights and submit their memorandum to the right people,” said Nkunzi.
Bhenguza said the living conditions in Siyahlala were inhumane and she had to pay R300 every month for her illegally connected electricity.
She said she is unemployed and for a living she depends on a government child support grant of her three children.
“I need electricity of my own,” said Bhenguza.

Provincial police spokespersons could not be reached for comment yesterday. – Sandiso Phaliso

Tags: Lansdowne Road, Luzuko Nkunzi, Nomziwoxolo Bhenguza, Philippi’s Siyhlala informal settlement

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