Durban - The removal of illegal electricity connections in informal settlements sparked two separate service delivery protests in the north and south of Durban on Wednesday.
Both protests - the first opposite uMhlanga and the other in Lotus Park, Isipingo - were directed at the municipality after they removed the electricity connections. They were also protesting against the lack of houses for those living in informal settlements.
In the first incident on Wednesday morning, almost 100 residents living in Blackburn Village alongside the N2 northbound freeway blocked the two-lane highway, the road to King Shaka International Airport.
Cars veered onto the centre median and some turned back towards uMhlanga.
Protesters brandished sticks and a placard reading - “ Put power now on”.
They had been left without a power supply for three days after the municipal electricity unit removed illegal connections at the informal settlement.
Branch executive member for the ANC in municipal ward 102, Lucky Mziki, said they had handed a memorandum to the municipality demanding that residents living in the informal settlement be given houses, as promised in the elections.
“Two important issues were unemployment and housing. People have been waiting on the housing list, but newcomers are benefiting. None of the residents were given a job at the uMhlanga freeway road construction. We are waiting for feedback from council,” he said.
Other issues were the removal of refuse and the unhealthy living conditions people were living in, he said. And there were children who had serious medical problems, including skin infections.
At about mid-morning, protesters from the Silvergull Drive Informal settlement in Isipingo fought with municipal staff who had also removed electricity wires illegally connected to power boxes.
Jaco Pienaar, ward 90 PR councillor, said a meeting was scheduled for Thursday to solve the problem.
Residents from the informal sector blockaded the street, demanding housing and electricity.
Nearby residents said they were living in fear as the shacks border flats and houses.
“I am totally against the theft of electricity. They are staying there illegally and now they want electricity for free. I have spoken to municipal officials and together we will address them,” Pienaar said.
Ward councillor Sunil Kalicharan said he addressed the protesters, but they had refused to listen.
“They made many demands, which the council will have to look into. We expect more protests if officials do not address them,” he said.
Police spokesman Major Thulani Zwane confirmed both incidents were service delivery protests. “Public Order police were standing off at both protests. No arrest have been made at this stage,” he said.
The eThekwini municipality had not responded to e-mails at the time of going to print.