Johannesburg – Aggrieved residents of Winnie Mandela informal settlement in Tembisa feel provoked by the City of Ekurhuleni, which they accuse of constantly “picking on them”.
This comes after local residents, in a fit of rage, vandalised a customer care centre on Monday evening.
Their anger was sparked by the lack of electricity supply, which was discontinued for two days over the past weekend.
“This municipality has always been singling us out. There are 12 sections in Winnie Mandela (settlement), but the only sections that are affected by electricity outages are sections 2 and 8,” said Thomas Maabe, a resident in section 6.
Maabe said the root problem of the outages was linked to the high water bills that affected most residents in the settlement.
“Everyone knows that water bills are high here. Everyone knows that the municipality is owed millions. Why does the municipality cut off our electricity for days when we owe it money for water? It does not make sense,” Maabe told The Star.
The community has been known to vandalise municipal structures out of anger when protesting over service delivery.
In 2015, residents burnt 11 cars while causing significant damage to the clinic and library during a protest, which started after the disconnection of illegal electricity.
Another resident, who refused to be named, spoke about the community’s frustrations pertaining to service delivery and the reasons behind vandalism during protests.
“It’s because the municipality does not listen to us. They are playing with us. They react only when we do something like this."
“Then they will come and we’ll have a community meeting, because they act like they care."
"We know that what we are doing is shooting ourselves in the foot, but what will you do if your pleas are not being heard?"
Ekurhuleni mayoral spokesperson Gugu Ndima said the situation had more dimensions than what the residents claimed.
The outages were as a result of development projects that were taking place in the area, she said, adding that some of the issues were attributed to nepotism pertaining to the projects that were being undertaken.
“We know the protest was in relation to service delivery, but we also know that after having an imbizo with the community, they were upset about nepotism related to jobs being given to family members of those in charge of the projects,” she said.