OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR CHRIS PAPPAS
Greetings to you honourable Mayor Chris Pappas. I congratulate you and your team for your work and progress you are doing. It is for the first time that I write such engagement during your term of office.
To anyone reading do not take this as an attack to a new administration but a civil society voice engaging correctly as a community member of uMngeni Local Municipality.
The role of civil society should be heard loudly if others are not willing to engage. I am optimistic that my engagement is legal, legal and accounted for.
In the previous administration and leadership in uMngeni Local Municipality, I engaged in several occasions to ensure that inter-governmental method and community representation is not compromised.
My shared concern is why the municipality have taken a decision of sending armed security forces, with either rifles or guns, for illegal disconnections in our areas? Is this the answer?
I know it was a resolution taken from the full council, but was there no other means to solve this?
The reason I am rising a concern is to tell our uMngeni Local Municipality administration to have their house in order as well.
I know to have security forces might scare others to pay penalties charged to them but for how long?
So to our local municipality I would like to say please sort your computers and network problems before you blame people for not buying electricity.
Let me relate a true story: when I went to Howick trying to buy electricity tickets, I went to the Dicks Road offices. I was told the lines were down and there was no network. Then I went down to another uMngeni offices near kaMevana Township but was told by security that the contract of a person selling electricity had came into an end.
I phoned somebody in Mpophomeni township to go to a local uMngeni local office. The network was very slow but they did get electricity.
In the same week, on Saturday, I was standing outside the Mpophomeni office and I counted seven people who came to buy electricity but the security told them that the offices were closed and no one was selling electricity.
Now let us start reasoning; if electricity is not sold to people, how will they respond to this issue? Then the next thing is illegal connections because a person has to wait until Monday sometimes to get electricity and what about those with feast and funerals - they cannot wait for such.
By fixing the above the municipality will do a good favour to itself and the people.
In another engagement the people who built their houses opposite the Mpophomeni Shopping Mall were for a long time regarded as not having permission to build in that area. They were connected with electricity after a long battle to prove that they were there lawfully. Today they have electricity.
But in another area opposite the Mpophomeni local office, which has had residents for more than 12 years, one will say why are almost 20 households not given permanent electricity. What makes them differ the one above, since they have built houses with their own expenses and have saved more money for the municipality by not asking for money to build.
Everyone in this country has to be protected in the Bill of Rights to have access to electricity and water, so why its difficult to have intervention?
I for one I am not promoting illegal connections but proper channels should be followed.
For us as residents, we are against brandishing rifles to unarmed residents. There should be other ways to do such activities.
I say this because we cannot tolerate a sense where people will one day say we have been provoked we will go empty handed to people carrying guns, ending like Marikana.
To those that are supposed to get a nod to have electricity, please the municipality should do its work and give them a chance to have electricity. We are all equal in the eyes of the South African constitution and the law.
Ending my letter, we kindly encourage anyone to pay for services because in return its increases our capital.
Mayor Chris Pappas responds Dear Mr Ndlovu,
Thank you for taking the time to document your concerns and raise some issues with me.
With regard to the BT offices in Mpophomeni having limited accessibility, I will look into this and ensure that it is resolved. Electricity can also be purchased from Mageza garage, Mpophomeni Mall, as well as a few small vendors around the community.
Contractors working for the uMngeni Municipality have been forced to get armed security while they conduct their work.
They are often attacked by the community, held hostage and at times have been threatened with weapons. In order to protect themselves they require security to go with them.
It is sad that the community that you are referring to believes it is correct to resort to violence and intimidation. The municipality has the right to protect and repair our infrastructure. The electricity laws demand that we take all reasonable steps.
The uMngeni Municipality loses tens of millions of Rands every year due to illegal connections and theft of electricity.
All residents know that electricity is not for free and that it must be paid for. To say that people do not know would be a poor excuse. In order for us to deliver other services such as roads, parks, waste collection and social development we must reduce the electricity losses.
I must correct you, electricity is not something that you will find in the Bill of Rights. Water is a human right in South Africa but electricity is a service that a municipality provides in return for payment. That is why you can disconnect electricity but not water as a municipality.
To assist the poor the municipality has made available 150 units of electricity which costs us R5 million a year. This shows our commitment to helping the poor while also recovering the losses that we incur.
The people who have built their houses next to the Mall have done so illegally. They have built on municipal land without getting permission. This land could have been used to provide poor families with houses.
Now the land has some big houses on it and the poor will have to suffer longer. They are also connecting electricity illegally.
My husband, John, was out on a bicycle ride on Tuesday, October 11. On the Karkloof Road, just past Yard 41, he had an accident and came off his bike.
The chain snapped and he fell off and landed on the end of the handlebars, causing an injury to the chest.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to the very kind lady (whose name my husband can’t remember as he was a bit out of it after the fall) and a gentleman called Juan who stopped to offer assistance.
Juan very kindly brought my husband home and I took him straight to Lenmed Howick Hospital.
It turns out he had three broken ribs with a lot of soft tissue damage in the area.
After an x-ray and a night in hospital he was sent home with strict instructions from Dr Bull to take it easy for about four weeks while the ribs heal.
So, once again, our special thanks to the lady (you know who you are) and Juan for your kind help.