Settlers blockade roads during protest
Durban - Pandemonium greeted Copesville residents early on Monday when about 1 500 people blocked Bhambatha (New Greytown) Road in Pietermaritzburg with burning tyres, rubbish and boulders.
Residents of the Ezenketheni informal settlement in the area are protesting against lack of service delivery, especially the lack of electricity.
They have also complained that the Msunduzi Municipality has failed to electrify the informal settlement as promised, and has taken to disconnecting illegal electricity connections, resulting in the informal residents being left without any form of power.
Angry protesters barricaded the road at about 6am on Monday, denying exit and entry to Copesville residents and taxis.
Protesters then moved to Dr Chota Motala (Old Greytown) Road, which is an alternative route to the area, and also barricaded roads in Copesville itself. Police at the scene used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the angry crowd.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that no arrests had been made, and that the public order unit was monitoring the situation.
Calls, smses and e-mails to the Msunduzi Municipality went unanswered, and no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
The Msunduzi Municipality, backed by the provincial Treasury, is due to electrify informal settlements in the city in a project that is expected to be completed by December.
An amount of R7 million has been made available to electrify the homes of 2 000 residents.
The municipality said it would start with the roll-out in the Ezinketheni informal settlement in Copesville, and then move to other settlements.
Earlier this year, mayor Chris Ndlela also promised to eradicate illegal electricity connections after several deaths.