Marikana woman electrocuted in her shack

Zukisa Gqwetha, younger brother of Yoliswa shows Vukani the burn marks he had suffered when he had been shocked by electricity.

The Gqwetha family from Marikana informal settlement are mourning the death of Yoliswa Gqwetha who, they say, died after she fell off her bed during epileptic seizures and was electrocuted when her body touched the zinc sheets of her shack.

Close to the back of her shack, they say, are illegal electricity connections. The 27-year-old mother of two, who died on Thursday October 26, had been living in the area since 2014.

Her death is the latest in a series of electrocution incidents in the area and highlights some of the dangers faced by the community.

Yoliswa’s brother, Zolani said he heard a loud noise coming from her shack and when he went to investigate, he found her lying on the floor.

When he tried to pick her up, he got an electrical shock.

He said he called his neighbours for help, but it was too late. His sister was dead.

Zolani said that in May this year his younger brother had shocked after he touched one of the shacks in the area.

However, he was lucky because help was immediately available.

He said his arm and leg were burned. Zolani said electricity to the area was coming directly from a “danger box”.

“We live in fear as we do not know who will be next. I hope that we can get legal electricity to prevent the unnecessary deaths,” he said.

Mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, Xanthea Limberg, said the Marikana settlement was set up on a number of private properties which are the subject of a pending court case.

Ms Limberg said the purchase of the properties formed part of the current litigation.

However, she said, the City was providing services including taps and container toilets on the periphery of the settlement, and weekly mechanical cleaning of the area.

Furthermore, she said, the City was currently assessing possible sites for additional water, sanitation and public lighting services on the periphery of the settlement and is planning for the rollout of door-to-door refuse collection services.

Eskom spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, said the land which the residents occupied was privately owned and that throughout the area there were illegal electricity connections, which, from time to time, Eskom disconnected .

He said they would only be able to formally supply electricity to the area if government purchased the land.

Yoliswa’s eldest sister, Bongiwe Sonti, described her as a loving person and that it had been difficult to organise her funeral because they were unemployed.

She said according the deceased’s death certificate the cause of death was under investigation. Yoliswa was buried in the Eastern Cape on Saturday November 11.

* Meanwhile the Gqwetha family are struggling to get identity documents for Yoliswa’s two young brothers, Likhona and Lundi, even though they have birth certificates.

Older sister Bongiwe Sonti said she was worried about Lundi who was doing Grade 12 and had had to beg the school to allow him to write his final exams.

She said she had tried countless times to apply for their IDs but had been sent from pillar to post.

She said the last time she went to the Khayelitsha office of Home Affairs, she was told that she needed to apply for the unabridged birth certificate – which she had done, but was told that she needed to wait for six month

Thabo Mokgola, spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs, however, said the department had no record of an ID application for Lundi Gqwetha.

He therefore advised the youngster to approach the nearest Home Affairs office to lodge an application. In the case of Zukisa Gqwetha, he added, the department had indicated that insufficient documents had been submitted with the application and requests for the additional documentation had not been responded to.