| PORT ELIZABETH

Kliprand residents furious at council’s broken promise

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PE protesters block roads, burn tyres

Photo of people protesting
Angry Kliprand residents blocked roads on Thursday, demanding electrification of the informal settlement. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani
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More than 200 residents of Kliprand informal settlement in Port Elizabeth shut down roads with burning tyres, rocks, rubbish and storm water pipes. They say Nelson Mandela Bay Mayco Member for Infrastructure Andile Lungisa broke his promise to bring electricity to the settlement.

GroundUp could not reach Lungisa for comment.

Three groups of protesters shut down Old Uitenhage Road and Soudin Road to Bethelsdorp Police Station. By mid-morning the tyres were still burning, while police were trying to calm the protesters down.

Many children did not attend school, joining their parents and waving placards on which was written “Ons soek krag” (we want power), “Kliprand gatvol” and “Tired of empty promises”.

The protesters say after their last protest on 21 August, Lungisa visited the settlement accompanied by ward councillor Nomazwi Sonti and her assistant Luyanda Gcakasi to see their living conditions. The residents’ main demand was electricity. They say illegal connections have claimed many lives.

Doreen Jack, the protesters’ leader, said that Lungisa promised to bring electricity within three weeks. “We took him into our shacks to see how dangerously we were living with illegal electricity connections.”

She said residents had been prepared to wait until December but Lungisa had “promised to give us electricity within three weeks from that day of the protest”.

“We went home happy, thinking that our problems would be solved. He even sent someone on 22 August to assess our area and to see where the electric poles and cables will be put. But since then nothing has been done, ” Jack said.

Another angry resident, Juneen Carolus, who was yelling at the police trying to disperse protesters said: “My grandmother died here at the age of 80 and she never saw electricity or used a flush toilet.”

“Do you mean we should keep quiet and not protest for our rights?” asked Carolus. “We don’t need police here. We want electricity that we were promised.”

Gcakasi confirmed that Lungisa had promised electricity within three weeks. But, Gcakasi said, the municipal council had twice failed to sit and that had delayed the electrification prohgramme. Gcakasi said residents had been informed about the delays during a meeting on Tuesday 8 October.

GroundUp phoned Lungisa five times and sent him a Whatsapp message. We also called Nelson Mandela Bay municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki and sent him a Whatsapp. Neither has replied.

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TOPICS:  Electricity Housing

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