Power cables a danger to residents

Community leader Khwezi Ndabeni shows Vukani the hanging wire cable that has now been wrapped around the electricity pylon.

Residents of Sondela informal settlement, in Mfuleni, say their lives are in danger due to loose electricity cables and claim they get shocked when they walk barefoot.

The settlement is located between unfenced electricity pylons.

In August, they said, power cables fell and since then their lives had been at risk. They said the pylons made “scary” sounds when it rains and they fear that one day someone might be electrocuted in their homes.

The residents have no access to electricity and toilets and have resorted to making illegal electricity connections.

Community leader Khwezi Ndabeni said when the cable fell, many people had fled their homes. She said technicians arrived the following day and tied the wire to the pylon but never properly fixed it.

The area is home to about 250 shack dwellers from Bardale. They occupied the land in March and have been evicted a number of times.

Ms Khwezi said they told the technicians that they wanted the City of Cape Town to put an enclosure around the pylon because children were playing around it and they feared that they might be electrocuted.

“We want the City to put a fence around the pylons and fix that wire. Because we had no other choice we had to occupy the land. Because we don’t have toilets, we have to use bucket toilets to relieve ourselves and dump the faeces at a nearby drain. Crime at night is rife because we have no lights,” she said.

Ms Khwezi said that the five communal taps were located outside the area, making it difficult for them to walk between the clustered shacks with the buckets of water.

She said that they wanted the taps to be installed between the shacks like in the other areas. She explained that they feared when a fire broke out they might not be able to douse the fire because it was difficult to reach the taps.

Resident Bulelwa Ngova said they were also not provided with rubbish bags to put their rubbish in and had to buy their own plastic bags. She said the lack of lighting has made it difficult for residents to walk at night.

Social and economic Ddvelopment manager at Eskom, Thandi Nkonzo, said the area was serviced by the City of Cape Town – not Eskom directly – and therefore they were unable to comment on the matter.

When Vukani referred the matter to the City, mayoral committee member for informal settlements; water and waste services; and energy, Xanthea Limberg, she confirmed that the “illegal settlement” was located on an electricity servitude, obstructing access to the lines for maintenance and repairs.

Ms Limberg said the settlement was formed as a result of an illegal land invasion that took place in the second quarter of this year.

She said senior City leaders as well as officials from the provincial government had engaged extensively with these residents throughout the course of the year.

Furthemore, she said, the City’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit had also conducted three consecutive operations during which illegal structures on the land parcel were prevented from being erected because the land was used for the purposes of housing an electricity servitude and power lines which supply the broader community and informal settlements in the area with electricity.

“The City will provide basic services to this new informal settlement as it does with all others, as per constitutional requirements – in due course and in line with available budgets,” she said.