Intersite residents live in the dark

Nolundi Bhayi and her son Jonathan showing an empty refrigerator. With no electricity, the Bhayi family had to ask their close family to store their food.

Being stuck in a house without electricity and water during lockdown is a nightmare residents of the Intersite temporary relocation area in Langa know all too well.

With no money or vehicles, most residents cannot run anywhere for help but have to accept the situation they are in.

Some are able to ask their relatives for help to store their food in a refrigerator or to charge a cellphone.

Frustrated residents said they have had to deal with the water and electricity cuts in the area since a month ago.

Businesswoman in the area Nolundi Bhayi said the cuts affected not only her vetkoek businesses but the entire community.

She said the power cut had cost her dearly.

“You can imagine the trauma we are in. Imagine people stuck in houses without all the necessities like water and electricity.

“We are in hell here. But what makes things worse is that most people cannot afford to go elsewhere for help.

“I am lucky because I have family in Zone where I can go drop my groceries and charge my phone there. What about those who have no one here?

“It is bad,” she said.

Ms Bhayi said she has no clue why the water and electricity was cut. She said what makes things worse is that local shops have inflated prices. People are making money out of us now. A candle is now R8 while a litre of paraffin is R20. “There is madness now. Soon those that are close will charge people for charging their cellphones.

“I saw people carrying phones to the nearby area. Surely they will soon be charged too,” she said.

Another resident, Khutala Mayaya described their situation as a “nightmare”.

She said it was difficult to be without the two most important things, water and electricity.

“This has never happened here before that both water and electricity vanished like that.

“This is a nightmare. Better are those who have family members not far from here. To those of us who have no one, we will suffer more,” she said.

She hoped that things will improve soon. She said the sooner the two are fixed the better for the community. But there is hope.

Mayoral committee member for energy and climate change, Phindile Maxiti, said the City of Cape Town is making every effort to maintain the electricity supply to the Intersite area, which is being affected by ongoing illegal connections.

“The supply is being impacted due to a burnt out transformer. The City views this as a priority and its electricity generation and distribution staff members will go to site soon if safety protocols are in place.

“The community from the informal settlement have been tapping illegally into the existing electrical network, be it from overhead lines, underground cables, public light poles or distribution kiosks, which is increasingly placing pressure on the existing infrastructure and subsequently affects the electricity supply to the area,” he said.

He called on community members to take ownership of the area’s electrical infrastructure to enhance community safety and living conditions. He said it was encouraging that residents have indicated their willingness to cooperate.

“Electricity theft and vandalism are criminal acts and those responsible must be brought to book,” said Mr Maxiti.

Mayoral committee member for water and waste, Xanthea Limberg, said since the lockdown started, the City’s water and waste directorate has actioned the roll-out of 31 water trucks, which have delivered more than 13 million litres of water to some of the most vulnerable communities in informal settlements where access to water is constrained.

She said this includes the Intersite temporary relocation area.

She added that this essential service, however, has not come without its challenges as opportunistic criminals have targeted water trucks at delivery points.

Residents are encouraged to report electricity theft and outages to the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089, by SMS to 31220, or by email to power@capetown.gov.za