440 11.09.2012 Residents of Thembelihle took to the streets as they demand better services, some of the roads leading into Thembelihle where closed due to the protest. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg -

Illegal electric connections lying uncovered on the streets of Thembelihle in Lenasia are not only claiming human lives, but many animals are dying too.

And on Tuesday, a community leader and residents took to the streets to call for power and houses, barricading roads in the area.

So far, two people, two dogs, a pregnant cow and a goat are alleged to have been killed by the illegal connections.

Wires that have been cut and now hang at awkward angles on street poles in Thembelihle, as well as in ditches across the road, bear testimony to residents’ determination to access power.

However, those connections have brought nothing but grief for some.

Stanley Kubheka lost his pregnant cow and goat to illegal connections. The cow, which was to give birth in two months, stepped on a live wire and died. Kubheka said he had asked the people who had done the illegal connection to pay him, but they did not.

“They took the cow and ate it. They never apologised, neither did they pay.”

Then, after rains, his goat was seen drinking water in which there was a live wire. The goat was electrocuted.

The people who had made the illegal connection are said to have put the goat in a wheelbarrow, put grass on it and dumped it in the veld. But someone saw them, and Kubheka was paid R1 500.

Kubheka said a dog owner in the area was paid R4 000 for his greyhound, which died after stepping on a live wire.

A 51-year-old woman, who declined to give her name, said she knew of a dog and its owner who died on the same day after being electrocuted.

Then last Friday, residents had to push a dog off a live wire to save its life.

There are also allegations that an old man with a metal brace on his leg was electrocuted when he touched a fence from which a live wire was hanging.

The spokesman for the Thembelihle Concerned Citizens, Siphiwe Segodi, said they had commissioned the electrification of the area through Operation Khanyisa because the government was not acting.

“Residents were told they had to wait for a technical team to connect them. Some, however, did not wait and decided to do the connections themselves.

“The old man I heard of who died was doing the connection himself when he was electrocuted,” he said.

Ward 8 councillor Janice Ndarala said Thembelihle did not have electricity because the area was dolomitic and residents were being moved to a nearby new development in Lehae.

According to Municipal IQ, a municipal data and intelligence body which records major service delivery protests, protests had increased in the past eight years.

While the Thembelihle protest was not violent, Municipal IQ said that in July alone, 88 percent of protests turned violent. - The Star