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Soweto shutdown: City of Joburg says residents’ grievances stem from unhappiness with Eskom and police

Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse has invited Eskom and SAPS to be present when she receives the grievances of protesting Soweto residents. File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse has invited Eskom and SAPS to be present when she receives the grievances of protesting Soweto residents. File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 21, 2022

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Pretoria – Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse says the problems around electricity supply in Soweto, which have sparked protests, should be resolved by Eskom, not necessarily the City of Johannesburg.

“I think it is important to state upfront that the majority of Soweto, almost all of it, is supplied electricity via Eskom which a national government entity, and therefore we do not have control or management over what Eskom does in Soweto. Equally, some of the complaints relate to policing and these matters need to be taken up with the South African Police Service,” Phalatse’s spokesperson Mabine Seabe spoke to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.

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“That is why this afternoon when the memorandum will be received, the executive mayor has called Eskom and the SAPS to be present to receive that memorandum. As the City of Johannesburg, we will deal with matters that relate to the competencies of local government.”

Mabine said as “a responsive city”, Joburg has contemplated taking over supply of electricity to areas including most of Soweto and larger parts of Sandton “so that the communities receive the best possible from the local government authority”.

Ealier, the Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) said it had deployed officers to monitor the protests, as the Soweto community members march on Phalatse’s offices.

Disgruntled residents have been protesting about the lack of electricity in their areas. Several streets were blocked and some residents were burning tyres.

JMPD spokesperson Xolani Fihla said residents of Pimville and Klipspruit in Soweto have applied for, and were granted, permission to march to the mayor’s office, where they will hand over a memorandum.

“That march was approved and it is happening today. What we know is that the participants will be gathering at Maponya Mall, I think at around 9am, where they will be transported to Parktown at Peter Rose Park where they will gather again and march to Metro Centre in Braamfontein. I know some roads will be affected especially around the Braamfontein area (and these include) Empire Road, Joubert Street, De Korte and Civic Boulevard,” said Fihla.

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“We do have police contingency which is on the ground at this moment, just monitoring. As the march starts, officers will monitor the march and we will be able to control and divert traffic.”

Fihla said on Monday, most roads in Soweto were closed because of the protests.

He said on Tuesday morning, some roads in Soweto were riddled with rocks and burning tyres.

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“We can’t confirm that it is connected to this march and the shutdown that happened yesterday but we can’t rule that out,” Fihla said.

He said the organisers of the march today had indicated that about 2 000 residents will be taking to the streets.

“That is why we also need to have a heavy police presence within the area. We also can’t rule out criminal elements which might want to destabilise the day-to-day running of the city. As law enforcement, we are warning those who want to do that, that lawlessness won’t be tolerated and anyone found breaking the law will be dealt with decisively,” Fihla said.

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He said the JMPD contingent was supported by the SAPS.

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