Durban - A Durban couple are mourning the death of their 1-year-old daughter who was electrocuted on Sunday by a wire supplying illegal electricity to a shack in Clare Estate.
Residents have blamed the toddler’s death on the city, saying it had failed to provide proper housing and basic services.
City spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, said the fight against illegal electricity connections was an ongoing battle.
“It would be unfair to hold the city liable for any deaths due to the illegal connections. We try to get the situation under control by disconnecting the illegal electricity,” said Mofokeng.
“But the community reconnects it as soon as the contractors leave. The best we can do is to educate communities about illegal connections and ask them to be patient with service delivery. There is a roll-out process for housing and electricity,” he said.
Vincent Zulu said his wife, Edgar, had gone to use the toilet at the Palmiet Road informal settlement when their daughter, Ayanda, ran out of their home.
When Edgar returned, some children were standing at her door and asked her to follow them because Ayanda needed help.
“The children told her Ayanda fell face down on some wires and was crying. When she got there Ayanda was dead,” he said.
“But Edgar did not give up. She ran with the baby to one of the formal houses for assistance. Someone took them by car to the hospital.”
A doctor at King DinuZulu Hospital (formerly King George V) pronounced Ayanda dead on arrival. According to a doctor’s report she had open wounds on both her thighs.
Vincent, a casual worker in the CBD, was at work when he got the message.
“I am speechless. I think Ayanda went looking for her mother but took the wrong pathway. She probably saw the children playing and joined them,” he said.
“The wires are left exposed in many of the pathways between the shacks. It is a miracle more people are not dying. We cannot speak out against the illegal connections because everyone needs them.”
The wires that electrocuted Ayanda were connected to two black cables and partially buried outside the entrance of a shack and an incline to a pathway.
Palmiet Road informal settlement chairman, Caiphus Bhengu, said the incident had stunned everyone. He said the connection of illegal electricity could not be stopped.
“The city knows our plight. This week we will bury an infant in the struggle for proper housing and basic services,” he said.
“I will emphasise to those making the connections to bury the live wires.”
Mnikelo Faku Ndabankulu, spokesman for the shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, urged the eThekwini Municipality to fast-track housing and the electrification of all informal settlements.
“Incidents like these could have been prevented. People cannot live without electricity,” he said.
“We have asked for pre-paid meters to be installed. We are willing to pay for it.”
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said an inquest docket had been opened.
“We can only investigate a murder once the inquest docket has gone to court and a magistrate has found that someone was liable for the child’s death,” he said.
Zulu said Ayanda would be buried in Eshowe, but funeral arrangements had yet to be finalised.