Angry residents of Tembisa in Ekurhuleni took to the streets embarking on a violent protest after saying they are sick and tired of the shortage of electricity and other service delivery related issues.
Most of the streets in the area were barricaded by burning tyres, rocks, stones, tree branches and a whole lot of other debris, making it impossible for motorists to drive in or out of the township.
Gauteng Provincial SAPS spokesperson Lt Colonel Mavela Masondo earlier said a large police contingent was deployed to maintain calm, currently the situation is calm but still tense.
”As we speak we are hungry and we are deprived of electricity, for what reason we don't know. Rent is too expensive, we are not coping, can the municipality not undermine us because we are uneducated,” said one woman protester.
Another resident requested for Rabasotho Customer Care Centre to be closed down, saying they are incompetent and they are not assisting them when they raise electricity issues.
“We fall victims of crime due to cut electricity services, do they expect us to live in the dark with small children in this high crime riddled area. Rabasotho must be closed,” said Sophie Mthimkhulu.
Among other issues raised by the protesters was the increase in tariffs, arguing that the high cost of living in the country was making it impossible to afford the new rates.
Gift Mthimkhulu said the people are suffering.
“We have a high rate of unemployment in the area, the youth are not working, there are no facilities for the youth which is a concern,” Mthimkhulu said.
The City of Ekurhuleni and the protesting residents agreed to a public meeting next week Friday.
Some of the protesters made their way from Tembisa to the OR Tambo Government Precinct in Germiston, which is the head office of the city, to hand over a memorandum with their grievances to Ekurhuleni Mayor Tania Campbell, who was accompanied by some members of mayoral committee.
Accepting the memorandum, Campbell gave an undertaking that the city will be responding to the issues soon.
Campbell also highlighted that even though some of the issues like the price of fuel and Eskom tariffs were beyond the city’s control, the metro would “see what we can do to assist the community in this regard”.
“The city and the protesters then agreed to a meeting on Friday, July 29, in Tembisa at which the municipality will be expected to respond to the issues raised in the memorandum of demands. It was further resolved that the venue and time will be determined in the next few days,” said Ekurhuleni spokesperson Zweli Dlamini.
He further said: “The city appeals for peace and stability in the Tembisa township while solutions to their grievances are being sought.”
Dlamini said the situation in Tembisa remains tense but under tight police surveillance and monitoring.
The Ekurhuleni ANC caucus said it is concerned about the number of protests that are taking place in Ekurhuleni.
“The recent legitimate protests by the communities of Tembisa and KwaThema are underpinned by the unreasonable tariffs and anti pro-poor policies that have been advanced by the DA-led coalition and allies. Against our warning, the DA-led coalition and its allies approved an IDP/Budget whose tariffs we characterised as unjust, given the tough economic conditions, and where many are unemployed and have lost jobs as a result of Covid-19 pandemic,” said ANC chief whip Jongizizwe Dlabathi.
Dlabathi said to a greater extent, the protests are an outcry over bad policy decisions by the current government in the city.
“The ANC caucus will be engaging communities across the city with a view to table further solutions and to solicit a mandate on what is to be done,” said Dlabathi.