Family breadwinner electrocuted by illegal connection

Residents say they have long been battling with the municipality to get electrification for Vastrap informal settlement

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Photo of wires over a road
Illegal connections run across a road to Vastrap informal settlement. Photo: Joseph Chirume

A 22-year old man in Port Elizabeth was electrocuted on Satuday by an illegal electricity connection. Residents say they have long been battling with the municipality to get electrification for Vastrap informal settlement.

Siyabonga Njokweni, who lived in Booysens Park, was electrocuted while visiting his uncle in Vastrap.

Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said, “It is alleged that on Saturday afternoon Siyabonga [Njokweni] was walking in Vastrap informal settlement when he walked into a loose electrical wire. The wire hit him on his neck and he was electrocuted. While he tried to push the wire out of his face, he endured further electrocution. He died as a result.”

Njokweni’s mother, Deborah, said her family has been robbed of its breadwinner. “We are a family of six and no one is working. We depend on child grant money. Siyabonga was helping the family a lot by doing part time jobs … Where will I get money to bury Siyabonga?”

Residents of Vastrap say Njokweni is not the first to die or be injured by illegally connected electric cables.

Community leader Khaya Makalima said, “This is really dangerous and the municipality should resolve our electricity problems urgently … We have been asking for a long time for the provision of electricity boxes in our shacks. This also helps the municipality financially because people will be paying for the electricity.”

Resident Melikhaya Msezeni said, “Residents are connecting electricity from a substation that feeds the entire Booysens Park and Vastrap. The power is very dangerous. The municipality should formalise Vastrap and supply us with boxes.”

“Drug addicts in Vastrap steal copper wire and sell it. This is the reason why people end up using fence wires to connect electricity,” said Msezeni.

Secretary for the Booysens Park branch of the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) Miselwa Nqabeni said, “As Sanco we held discussions with the ward councillor, the municipality’s human settlements department and their department of social development. Our objective was to present our findings about Vastrap. We urged them to formalise the informal settlement so that services like water, electricity and roads will be supplied. We also advised them to relocate other residents to other settlements. There are some people whose houses were approved in other wards long ago, but they are waiting for official confirmation so they can move to their houses.”

Nelson Mandela Bay Mayoral spokesperson Sibongile Dimbaza said, “A layout plan is being prepared to accommodate all the households in Vastrap. In this regard there will be no need for relocations. All relevant directorates are currently discussing all aspects relating to the development of the area in question, including the provision of electrification. For now, as things stand, we need to allow this process to come to completion.”

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TOPICS:  Electricity Housing

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