Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of Diep­sloot pledged af­ter protest

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TANKISO MAKHETHA

A PROCESS to bring elec­tric­ity to Diep­sloot is to com­mence af­ter thou­sands of an­gry res­i­dents brought the in­for­mal set­tle­ment to a halt in a volatile protest yes­ter­day morning.

Res­i­dents claim their anger stems from be­ing ig­nored by the City of Joburg af­ter they made nu­mer­ous at­tempts to reg­is­ter their plight over the lack of elec­tric­ity in their com­mu­nity.

As a re­sult, thou­sands of res­i­dents gath­ered at var­i­ous parts of the R511 (Wil­liam Ni­col Drive) and the N14, where they blocked traf­fic with rub­ble, rocks and burn­ing tyres.

The Joburg metro po­lice depart­ment (JMPD) said it was forced to ad­vise mo­torists to use al­ter­na­tive routes, which in­cluded the N1 and R55, to avoid the may­hem.

JMPD spokesper­son Su­per­in­ten­dent Wayne Min­naar said the eastern part of Diep­sloot was af­fected by road clo­sures that caused mas­sive traf­fic con­ges­tion.

“The N14 was also af­fected, but of­fi­cers were able to open the road. Traf­fic be­tween Pre­to­ria and Krugers­dorp and be­tween Pre­to­ria and Sand­ton were also af­fected,” he said.

Jo­han­nes­burg Roads Agency re­gional di­rec­tor Abi­gail Ndlovu said they would to­day be meet­ing with com­mu­nity lead­ers from the in­for­mal set­tle­ment and of­fi­cials from the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Eskom in a bid to re­solve the im­passe.

“We have to map out the process of re­solv­ing the is­sue. First we have to ad­dress de­con­gest­ing the in­for­mal set­tle­ment, then we have to con­cern our­selves with prop­erly aligning the struc­tures and ver­i­fy­ing the num­bers,” she said.

Ndlovu ex­plained that the meetings would be held dur­ing this week.

One fed-up res­i­dent, Movers Khosa, ac­cused the author­i­ties of not tak­ing their griev­ances se­ri­ously. “The prob­lem is that the gov­ern­ment does not lis­ten to us,” Khosa said.

“We went to the Speaker’s of­fice on three oc­ca­sions to de­liver our mem­o­ran­dums and no­body has re­sponded to them.

“This is the only lan­guage our gov­ern­ment un­der­stands,” he said.

Protest­ing res­i­dents, po­lice and the JMPD en­gaged in catand-mouse run­ning bat­tles as po­lice tried to dis­perse the pro­test­ers by fir­ing rub­ber bul­lets and tear­gas.

“The first mem­o­ran­dum was de­liv­ered to them on May 22 and the se­cond on May 31, but they still did not re­spond. We gave them 14 days and this is the re­sult…,” Khosa said.

He em­pha­sised that res­i­dents in the in­for­mal set­tle­ment had been liv­ing there with­out elec­tric­ity since 1995 and that they felt ne­glected.

Namhla Sime­lane, another res­i­dent, ex­plained that hav­ing no elec­tric­ity was con­tribut­ing to the high crime rate in the in­for­mal set­tle­ment.

“Women are get­ting raped and peo­ple are get­ting mugged at night be­cause crim­i­nals can eas­ily hide with­out be­ing seen,” Sime­lane said.

She added that shack fires were also rife, es­pe­cially in win­ter, be­cause peo­ple use paraf­fin stoves to keep warm.

“Yes­ter­day, there was a man who died in Diep­sloot af­ter his shack caught fire. We couldn’t help him be­cause we don’t have wa­ter to put out the fire,” she lamented.

Gov­ern­ment only un­der­stands vi­o­lent protests

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