| EASTERN CAPE

Cookhouse residents refuse councillor’s offer of paraffin and wood

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The community of KwaNoxolo township say they will accept nothing short of electricity

Photo of a woman
Mona Sias busy cooking for her family. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani
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When Ward 1 councillor Phumelelo Kwatsha (ANC) and ward committee members went door to door in KwaNoxolo township in Cookhouse on Tuesday, offering firewood and paraffin, they were rebuffed by many residents.

More than 60 families say they have been asking Blue Crane Route Local Municipality for electricity for eight years. Paraffin, they say, is too expensive. They say their stoves are polluting and a fire hazard. In 2018 there was a shack fire.

Last week, GroundUp told how grandmother Mona Sias burns plastic bottles to cook food for her family because police, citing lockdown regulations, prevent her from collecting any firewood.

Sias was one of those who rejected the firewood and paraffin stoves from the authorities. A GroundUp reader had offered her a gas stove and fuel. She said, “It was like I am dreaming. I jumped up and down like a baby. I never in my life received such a big present. He said next week on Monday my stove will be delivered.”

“Now I want the municipality to install electricity in our houses so that I can watch my TV, DVD player and use my refrigerator that my late mother left me,” she said.

Resident Simphiwe Blom was angry. “What upsets me most is for them [ward councillor and committee] to come and ask us about our living conditions. How can they ask us that stupid question?”

“When they were campaigning for our votes they came here, took pictures of our living conditions and promised to give us a better life if we vote for them.”

“Most of us here are unemployed. We survive by social grants and piece jobs. Electricity is more suitable for our living conditions,” he said.

Sizwe Gxekwa said, “Every time there are elections they come here and promise us houses and electricity. But none of those things have been delivered.

“If we accept these stoves and firewood, these useless leaders would boast about that and use it when they campaign for votes. They must give us what we want [electricity], not what they think can suit us.”

Councillor Kwatsha said, “I was asked by Sarah Baartman District Municipality Mayoral committee member to do a door to door and ask these households about their needs during this Covid-19 pandemic. Some of them want paraffin stoves while others wanted firewood. This is only a temporary solution for this Covid-19 period.”

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TOPICS:  Covid-19 Electricity

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