Daily Dispatch

Illegal wires over Buffalo Pass a hazard


ILLEGAL electricit­y wires are now strung across the busy Buffalo Pass in East London, presenting a danger to traffic, especially trucks.

A Daily Dispatch reader called to say he saw sparks when the top of a truck struck the drooping lines, and motorists travelling on the bustling road complained they feared for their lives.

The Dispatch went and saw that electricit­y thieves from Bhongweni and Ntenteni informal settlement­s near the East London Airport had stepped up their efforts.

The new illegal connection­s came after Eskom last month disconnect­ed the electricit­y supply from 23 houses illegally built on the land owned by the national Department of Public Works.

Residents who built on Bhongweni farm and those from across the road in Ntenteni appear to have teamed up in finding ways to power up with free electricit­y stolen from Eskom. Motorist Keith Sumner said: “We live in an area where we see izinyoka connection­s almost everywhere, but the connection­s are usually undergroun­d or on the side of the streets.

“It is now frightenin­g that people are actually moving the crime to busy main roads where many people travel. The big trucks will be most affected by that accident waiting to happen.

“I actually saw a truck that almost hit one of those live wires on Wednesday. It is a risk to life. The wires running over the Buffalo Pass road are not strung very high.

“This is serious because these live wires are supported by tall, thin sticks which can easily be blown down by wind,” said Sumner.

Yesterday, the Daily Dispatch saw wires swinging in the breeze across Buffalo Pass while many other wires were seen inside the big yards in Bhongweni. A web of the deadly connection­s was spread throughout the shacks.

Some connection­s were also spotted inside a protected forest.

Bhongweni former community leader Nonkosi Ntloko said she was no longer the secretary of the community committee and referred questions to the chairman, who was only identified as a Mr Mqabo.

However when the Dispatch contacted the new chairman he said: “As the leaders of this area we have not received any complaints from anyone about the illegal connection­s. Why did they not ask us, the people who live there, and not the Dispatch?”

Ward councillor Sindile Toni said the number of complaints about izinyoka in the area was rising.

He said a new agreement was struck up between the community, Eskom and Buffalo City Metro last week to remove the connection­s by yesterday but Eskom requested a postponeme­nt.

“We all agreed that the connection­s will be removed and legal electricit­y will be connected in the shacks and houses. Those connection­s are a big problem.

“Last month a woman was electrocut­ed in her shack. Residents do acknowledg­e that this crime affects them directly too,” said Toni.

Eskom spokeswoma­n Ntombekhay­a Mafumbatha said Eskom had decided to disconnect the illegal connection­s but she could not say when. —

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