24 March 2017
In May 2016, Buffalo City municipality in a bid to reduce crime set aside R13 million to install and maintain street lights in Mdantsane, Duncan Village and Dimbaza. But most of the newly installed lights in Mdantsane do not work.
Kholeka Mfikili from NU2 section 39 said that in her area the street lights had stopped working just a week after they had been fixed. She said residents had reported the broken street lights, but nothing had been done. Residents no longer bothered calling the municipality about the lights, she said.
“This area is very dark and people are being robbed … Almost every day I hear people crying at night and in the morning … It is not nice to live next to a road with no street lights,” she said.
Mfikili said that with winter looming she depended on her neighbour’s son to go with her to the bus stop every morning. “My bus leaves at 6:10 and it is still dark at that time because I leave my house at 5:40,” she said.
When GroundUp visited the Mdantsane Highway Shopping Centre, no street lights were working and on Qumza Highway only two street lights were on.
Vendors outside the shopping centre say they use candles at night and rely on lights from a big screen television at Highway taxi rank.
A meat vendor, who identified herself only as Nosiseko, said, “At night people are robbed here because it’s dark and criminals can easily run away without being seen.”
Another vendor said she had been robbed twice at Highway. “Early last year, I was busy packing my stock. One robber grabbed my money bag and ran away. There were people next to my stand but they did not see it. People only heard me crying and those tsotsis were gone with all my money,” she said.
Ward 42 councillor Senduka Maphuku said residents of informal settlements in NU1 and NU2 had set up illegal electricity connections to the newly installed street lights.
To solve the problem, the municipality would have to electrify the informal settlement. “This is what we are busy doing,” he said.
Spokesperson for Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality Sibusiso Cindi said street lights did get fixed, but criminals vandalised them.
“This is a crisis we are facing. We are aware that a lot of street lights are not working in Mdantsane. We are doing our best to fix them, but criminals keep on vandalising them,” he said.