Current Tshwane Mayor Randall Williams. The City of Tshwane has been criticised for failing to fix street lights and repair infrastructure. File Picture: Phill Magakoe
Current Tshwane Mayor Randall Williams. The City of Tshwane has been criticised for failing to fix street lights and repair infrastructure. File Picture: Phill Magakoe

ANC in Tshwane says DA must take the blame for the failing service delivery in Pretoria East

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Oct 20, 2021

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Pretoria – The ANC in Tshwane says the Democratic Alliance (DA) should take the blame for the “pathetic” service delivery in Pretoria east, characterised by lack of street lights, weeks of uncollected garbage, spreading pot holes and unmaintained municipal park and roadsides.

Some residents said the lack of street lights has contributed to the rise in crime and insecurity in areas including Garsfontein, Lynnwood Glen and Newlands in Pretoria East.

Residents on Kariba Street, in Lynnwood Glen, last month woke up to darkness and realised that thieves had cut off live municipal electricity cables on the street. Private security companies operating in the area said the trend has become common, and the thieves sometimes return to cut off and still the replaced cables.

A resident of Lynnwood, Maria Matimba, said walking on the streets after dark has become unimaginable because of the enveloping darkness.

“I finish work late in the evening, and the only lights we have are the ones put on by homeowners. Tshwane metro fails even on the slightest of services. Different mayors have been elected, but the service provision has become worse, and it is more dangerous for women to live under these circumstances,” she said.

“I do wonder where the numerous security companies are when this theft happens so often. This area is heavily patrolled by private security guards who are armed, but they vanish when these criminals steal cables. I have never seen the police patrolling here, it has always been private security companies, and they are many.”

A Democratic Alliance ward councillor in Lynnwood Pieter van Heerden insisted that there was no link between the lack of street lights and the theft of electricity cables in the area.

“All I can say is that the theft of cables, overhead electrical cables, is not isolated to one specific area. There is no specific proof that it is directly linked to street lights not working because it happens all over. People steal because it is a criminal act,” Van Heerden explained.

“They steal copper cables. They are going after the metal because it has a higher value. The stealing of electricity cables is a criminal act, and it happens all over the city, and it doesn’t only happen in Lynnwood Glen. I have incidents regularly in Lynnwood Ridge and Lynnwood Manor as well. It happens where street lights are working or not working. There isn’t a direct link between street lights working or not working – that is what I am saying.”

Another DA ward councillor in Pretoria East, Jacqui Uys, said the DA-run Tshwane Metro has been fixing street lights. She, however, said the problem was exacerbated when South Africa’s capital city was under “ANC administrators”.

“The city is focusing on street lights. We fixed 150 000 this year after a massive backlog was created in 2020 when the ANC administrators stopped fixing any street lights. This is an essential service and should be in place. As a ward councillor, I get reports every day of more street lights fixed,” said Uys.

She said the ongoing cable theft “has various effects (and) it leaves the community in the dark, it also cost the taxpayers billions, and it causes damage on other parts of infrastructure”.

“It is SAPS role to catch and prosecute these offenders. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any success that they have had in doing so,” said Uys.

The ANC in Tshwane hit back at the DA, lambasting the Randall Williams-led Tshwane municipality for the “marked decline in service delivery” across the city.

“The DA could have fixed these problems and responded to your questions without even bringing the ANC into the mix. They have had lots of money to run this city and leave the ANC out of the picture. There is room to fix problems with shifting and apportioning blame. If they inherited problems, why didn’t they fix those problems? Drive along Garsfontein and Atterbury Roads and see how dirty they are,” said ANC Tshwane chief whip in council Aaron Maluleka.

“This is an issue of competency and giving attention to things that matter. Numerous accidents happen on Garsfontein Road, where traffic lights are often not working. Waste collection, grass cutting and fixing street lights – those are supposed to be simple things, but the DA has shifted its eye from these things.”

The Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) said its dedicated cable theft team was established by the city out of concern of the numerous effects of cable theft and the millions of rand incurred by the city to restore power in the affected areas.

“Hence, we established this unit in the TMPD, and they're working 24/7, yielding results and making arrests more often. The areas of concern are not only the eastern side of the city. We have hotspots that are known to us, and we continue to patrol them,” said TMPD spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba.

“Areas such as Soshanguve, the western side of the city, and some areas in the CBD are hotspots. We urge members of the public to report any suspicious behaviour to us on 012 358 7095/6. Recently, we had a conviction where a Malawian man was sent to jail for stealing cable, and we will continue to arrest and make sure that they're sent to jail.”

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