| EASTERN CAPE

Villagers conned into buying their own electricity poles

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Municipality says it was unaware of scam in Mount Frere

Photo of a man in a field next to a pole
Themba Mlandu, 70, owns an electric pole but has no electricity at his home in Mount Frere. Photo: Nomzamo Yuku
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The community of National Village in Mount Frere have paid for electricity poles, but have no electricity.

Villagers say that in February a man from a construction company claiming to be sent by the municipality to install electricity, told them they had to buy their electricity poles. He said electrification would take place in April. After they bought their poles at the local building supplier, about 20 people in the village each paid the man R120 for the installation of the poles.

But that was the last they heard. The man disappeared in March.

Siyamcela Vellem, 64, said he had bought three poles for R540 plus R150 for delivery.

Themba Mlandu, 70, said he had wasted his money.

“It was all a lie,” he said. 

“Every morning, when I see these three poles, my heart is sore. I sacrificed the money I could have used on my medication to buy them. All for nothing. This is what happens when government fails people,” said Mlandu.

The villagers remain dependent on candles for light and on paraffin stoves and wood fires for cooking.

Umzimvubu Municipal Mayor Bulelwa Mabhengu urged communities to be patient. She said all villages would eventually be electrified. She warned people to be careful of individuals using the government’s name.

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TOPICS:  Electricity

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