28 June 2018
About 50 households in C-section of Duncan Village in East London, who have been living without electricity for four years, have welcomed the installation of a new supply transformer. Their celebrations were short-lived when the transformer switched off just a week after it was installed.
The Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality is expected to replace the transformer this week.
GroundUp first spoke to some these families in October 2017 who at the time at had been without electricity for over three years. They said that in 2014 the supply transformer burnt out after illegal connections were made to it. A woman had reportedly been electrocuted by one of the illegal electrical wires on the ground.
Two weeks ago, the municipality installed a new transformer to electrify C-section informal settlement. The number of illegal connections in the area is believed to have overloaded the new transformer.
Resident Akhona Majaja said her meat selling business suffered when the electricity was cut. Majaja said while she was happy for the new transformer, she believed the “municipality dragged its feet to help us”.
“We know that it will improve the level of safety at night around the area. Hopefully people will disconnect Izinyoka [illegal connections] cables from the poles,” she said.
Majaja said residents would be asking the City to install electricity boxes in each shack. “This will decrease the number of Izinyoka. Anyone found stealing electricity would be dealt with. Our ward councillor told us there was no point for this, as we will be moved to new houses very soon. We know that it will never happen,” she said.
Another resident Nokuthula Mafilika said her shack burnt down in 2017 because illegal connections running behind her home caught alight.
“We hope this will mean the end of our electrical problems, but [the transformer] is small. The municipality needs to re-install the cables that were cut by Izinyoka connections years ago,” she said.
Ward councilor Ntombizandile Mhlola said the City also planned on removing the illegal connections. Mhlola urged residents to stop making the illegal connections. “This was the main cause for the burning of the transformer in the first place,” she said.
Mhlola did not respond to questions on whether the municipality was considering installing electricity boxes in each shack.