Picture: Garth Johnstone

Durban - The full council sitting at City Hall was disrupted for about 30 minutes on Thursday by Bottlebrush residents in Ward 71, Chatsworth, who demanded electricity connection from the municipality.

The residents comprised of residents in the formal and informal areas.

Council speaker William Mapena had to call for a stand down and security personnel to remove the rowdy group from the public gallery.

The residents said they stood with the informal settlement dwellers as their presence in close proximity to their homes affected their livelihood.

Fatima Ismail, one of the residents in the formal housing said the municipality was ignoring the informal settlement’s plight because it fell under a DA ward.

“This informal settlement has been here for about 20 years now. The illegal connections affect our lives but we cannot blame these people because they are human too. They deserve to be treated with dignity and also deserve all the basic needs like everyone else. The municipality has never bothered to tell us and these people as to what its plans are for electricity installation at the settlement,” said Ismail.

About 11000 people reside in the settlement near Crossmoor.

The disruptions started when the ANC had to answer questions regarding the electrification of the area and the number of deaths due to illegal electricity connections.

Thamsanqa Jama, a resident in the informal settlement, said he had lived in the area for 10 years, and that a number of people, including at least one child have been electrocuted since his arrival in the area.
However, in response to the questions, ANC councilor Thembelihle De Lange said two deaths by electrocution were reported.

“We are stealing electricity not out of mischief. We do so because we need electricity. The people in the formal houses are greatly affected by these illegal connections because we steal from them but they know that the municipality is to blame for this,” Jama said.

Ward 71 councilor Sharon Hoosen said the municipality was politicising the electricity issue in the area.
“The municipality is gambling with these people’s lives to spite the DA. If that ward was under the ANC they would have installed electricity for these people. We will continue supporting these residents until their needs are attended to,” Hoosen said.

Daily News