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Cape Town - Residents of Kosovo informal settlement in Philippi have destroyed an electricity substation in the area, the City of Cape Town said on Friday.
“Protesters completely stripped and vandalised the Kosovo Main Station, leaving an estimated 5 200 people in the Kosovo and Samora Machel areas in the dark,” said the mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg.
It could take up to three months for services to be fully restored to the area, he said, adding that the money being spent on this could have been used to expand infrastructure.
“We respect the right of residents to protest, but this should be done peacefully and not to the detriment of other residents,” said Sonnenberg.
The power station was believed to have been damaged during a protest about the roll-out of container toilets in the area.
A number of container toilets were also destroyed in the protest on Monday. They were among 500 installed there since February. The city had advised the contractor involved to open a case against the vandals.
Sonnenberg said there had been extensive consultation between the city and the community on the preferred means of sanitation before the project was implemented. He said the community had indicated that it preferred container toilets.
“It is very unfortunate that certain individuals in this community have refused to accept this and have gone back on the agreement.
“They have acted irresponsibly, with the end result being that thousands of innocent residents will be without power for a considerable time.”
Sonnenberg said the installation of full-flush toilets in informal settlements was “often impossible” due to population density and topographical impediments.
“In the case of Kosovo, it was not possible to provide this type of sanitation as it is situated in a very low-lying area.”
He said the city's sewers were largely gravity-driven, making the conveyance of sewage away from the area through a sewerage pipe impossible.
The city would deploy additional security to guard the substation against further theft and vandalism.
Sonnenberg said city was doing all it could to restore power as quickly as possible to the area, and urged residents to co-operate.
“Experience has taught us that it is only through co-operation with our communities that we can make progress towards the provision of quality sanitation for all residents,” he said.