Ventersdorp - Electricity will be restored in Ventersdorp without any conditions, the North West 405 municipality said on Monday.
"Electricity will be restored immediately and the municipality will start consultation process with the community," Finance MMC Calvin Johnson told residents.
Residents of Ventersdorp shut down municipal offices, demanding that the municipality address the issue of a controversial tariff system. The protesting residents burnt tyres in front of the municipal building, while farmers who supplied tyres threatened to shut down all access into the small town with trucks and tractors if there was no solution to the crisis.
Community leader Naledi Rampa said the municipality had failed to resolved a billing system that saw consumers only receiving five percent worth of electricity, while the municipality took 95 percent to service their debt.
"For now the electricity will be unblocked without any condition, when you buy R100 electricity you must get electricity worth R100. The 95: 5 ratio, or the 70:30 or 50:50 ration will be discussed during consultation process," Johnson said to the applause from a large crowd attending a meeting at the council chambers.
Earlier Rampa said there was a policy that if you bought prepaid electricity for R100 you would only get electricity worth R5. The other R95 was used to service your arrears with the municipality.
The 95:5 ratio meant if you wanted electricity worth R100 you had to buy R2,000 electricity. R5 worth of electricity amounts to 3.4kw.
Jubilant residents dispersed peacefully after the announcement.
"We want Ventersdorp municipality back," shouted one man as the crowd left the council chamber.
Farmers and businessmen had brought their workers to the protest.
"We have people who bath in cold water because there is no electricity, people keep their chronic medication in fridges, other have to eat before taking medication, they cannot because of this electricity cut. We are closing this office until the problem is resolved," Rampa said.
Rampa owes over R164,000 according a statement from the municipality.
He said services had collapsed in Ventersdorp since the merger between Ventersdorp and the Tlokwe municipalities.
Earlier in the day, a farmer brought tyres and set them alight in front of the administration block, while women sang anti-apartheid struggle songs as a cloud of huge black smoke filled the sky in front of the municipal office. Municipal workers were told to get out of the building before the tyres were doused with fuel and set alight.
Local businessman Ernst Henning said the poor people in Ventersdorp were badly affected by the electricity supply cut.
"There is no service delivery in Ventersdorp. They cut all the power..if you pay or not pay, they cut off the power..."
Local farmers said they were equally affected by the billing system.
Farmer Petrie Geldenhusy said farmers were billed for refuse removal and sewerage services which the municipality did not render to them.
"We have been coming here in good faith to fill forms, they put the forms in boxes and never process them."