Ventersdorp - Residents in Ventersdorp shut down municipal offices on Monday, protesting over electricity billing issues, as local farmers supplied tyres to protesting residents to burn in front of the municipal offices.
A farmer brought four tyres in the morning, put them in front of the administration block of the municipality, doused them with diesel and torched them. Municipal employees in the building rushed for the door as a cloud of black smoke billowed from the burning tyres.
The farmer then went to fetch more tyres, this time bringing old tractor rear tyres, and the crowd of protesters ululated as he stopped, with several men from the crowd volunteering to offload the tyres from a van and roll them towards the fire. Later another van arrived with a load full of tyres.
Police eventually told the farmers to stop supplying tyres.
Ventersdorp residents are aggrieved at a new electricity tariff policy which has been implemented. "There is a policy that if you buy prepaid electricity for R100 you only get electricity worth R5. The other R95 is used to service your arrears with the municipality. We were not consulted on the 95:5 ratio policy," said community leader Naledi Rampa.
The 95:5 ratio meant if you want electricity worth R100 you must buy R2,000 electricity. R5 worth of electricity amount to 3.4kw.
"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 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.
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 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."
Rampa said the shutdown would continue until the problem was resolved.African News Agency