Hazeldean has been in the dark for two weeks after a transformer burst into flames due to illegal electrical connections.
Nelly Sipele, whose home is next to the transformer in Hazeldean, Philippi, lost nearly all her belongings when it caught alight and the fire spread to her home.
“This is not the first time we have experienced this,” she said. “We are losing a lot. We cannot have anything in the refrigerator and we are no longer enjoying staying in a house but the people in the shacks are enjoying life with illegal electricity.”
Ms Sipele said the trauma of the fire has made her mother sick.
“We nearly died. We were just lucky to be able to extinguish the fire. We want the city to move this transformer away from our house.”
Ms Sipele blames residents in the nearby Ramaphosa informal settlement for the illegal connections.
“This has been happening for three years, since the informal settlement came into existence. We have an electricity pole and a danger box in front of the house. We want it out.
“When people come to connect their wires, they climb on our house. They are rude and make threats when we try to speak to them. The City of Cape Town knows about this but do not care. They are allowing lawlessness while we suffer,” she said.
One of Ms Sipele’s neighbours, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, said her excitement at living in a house with electricity has waned.
“Go around this area and you’ll see spider webs caused by all the different kinds of wires. The transformers in some areas are wide open. They are not only a danger to us but to our children too. We are sitting on a time bomb
“I feel that the government is too lenient towards law-breakers,” she told Vukani.
Mayco member for Energy and Climate Change, Phindile Maxiti, said the City is doing everything it can to stop illegal electrical connections. He agreed that illegal connections are disruptive to the electricity supply in Philippi.
Mr Maxiti said the city has spent a large amount of money repairing and replacing vandalised electrical infrastructure and appealed to residents to report illegal connections to the City or police.
“Our electricity services staff and law enforcement officials conduct regular operations to remove illegal connections.” he said, adding that City staff also came under fire when attempting to disable illegal connections.
“Violent attacks on staff, stoning of both personnel and vehicles, and an increased trend in City vehicle hijacking in general in some areas as well as the impact of illegal connections, theft and vandalism of infrastructure continue to hamper service delivery,“ he said.
Residents can anonymously report illegal connections by calling 112 from a cellphone (toll free), 107 from a landline, 31220 by SMS or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Emergencies be reported on 021 480 7700.