City Power officials remove illegal electricity connections at an informal settlement in Johannesburg. In Lenasia, protest erupted after City Power disconnected illegal electricity connections on Tuesday. File photo: Supplied.
Lenasia - Fear, terror and rubber bullets were the order of the day for residents of an informal settlement that are fighting an never-ending battle for basic needs. 

Hundreds of dwellers of Waterworks in Lenasia barricaded roads, attacked authorities and protested after the City of Joburg removed illegal electricity connections.

The settlement has a population of more than 20 000 people and has been in existence for three years. 

Tensions rose after one of the protesters threw a glass bottle at officers. In retaliation, the officers fired rubber bullets, which injured a few people from the settlement. 

Ayanda Ndzimbomvu, a community leader of the informal area said stealing electricity was the last resort because their plight was not heard and many of the dwellers faced harsh and dehumanizing realities.

"We went to Eskom and City Power and still nothing was done. Now, when we take matters in our hands so we can also feel like human beings - we are being attacked and harassed. We know izinyoka (illegal connections) is not safe but what choice do we have. There are blind, disabled and elderly people living here, imagine what they go through," said Ndzimbomvu.

The mother of three has since had to close her bunny chow business because all the food was rotting. 

Omar Hassaw, a resident of the suburb who has stayed in the area for 20 years echoed Ndzimbomvu's sentiments and said it was high time government played its part so everyone could live in harmony.

"We need to live in peace. City power needs to give them water and electricity because they steal from us and it will cause friction," he said.

Isaac Mangena, spokesperson of City Power said the utility will monitor the area with the help of the Johannesburg Metro Police (JMPD) and South African Police Service (SAPS).

"We should call illegal connection for what it is, theft and a crime which costs the city millions in lost revenue and in repairs of infrastructure vandalised during illegal connections. It's also an inconvenience to formal paying customers who lose businesses and livelihoods," said Mangena. 

He also said this was not the first operation and they will continue coming back. 


The Star