Residents face off over illegal connections

Resident Ntombekhaya Bonga shows Vukani some of the windows damaged by the residents of Qau-Qadu.

A dispute between residents of the Qadu-Qadu informal settlement and owners of formal housing in Green Point over illegal electricity connections turned violent last Thursday.

Some were left with gaping wounds while one person was admitted to hospital after suffering serious head injuries when he was assaulted with a hammer.

It all started after Green Point residents took a stand and informed Eskom about the illegal electricity connection used by Qadu-Qadu residents in Lwazi Street.

The residents also confronted a backyard dweller in the street who had made an illegal connection from the same pole and allowed some Qadu-Qadu residents to get electricity from his shack.

The clash resulted in several people being physically assaulted with bricks and stones while Qadu-Qadu residents also broke windows of a house in the same street.

When Vukani arrived in the area just a few hours after the fight, there was still a feeling of fear and anxiety among Lwazi Street residents while residents of Qadu-Qadu were locked in an intense meeting nearby.

However, days later, Eskom came back and removed the pole completely in an effort to stop the connections.

Resident, Ntombekhaya Bonga, said since the residents from Qadu-Qadu started their illegal connections they have always had power interruptions.

Ms Bonga said they were aggressive in their attempts to steal electricity and said she does not understand why the windows of her family home were damaged.

She said they had to inform Eskom to cut these electricity cables because it was damaging their electrical appliances.

“I fear for my life because these people said they are going to attack us. We are not going to sleep because we fear for our safety. We struggle to do basic things such as boiling water or cooking because there’s just too much load for the transformer to support. Worst of all, these people who have connected electricity are threatening us as if we have done something wrong. For the past few days, we did not have electricity in the area,” she said.

Ms Bonga said she has lived in the area for years and this is the first time that she has experienced such a horrific fight over illegal connections.

Police officers were called when the scuffle broke out, but she said they arrived late, and did nothing to solve the matter. She feared some people are going to lose their lives as they had been identified and are now targets.

Ward councillor, Thando Mpimpi, said when the residents reported the matter to him for the first time he informed Eskom who visited the area accompanied by police officers to cut the wires.

But that did not stop the informal settlement residents from connecting electricity illegally again as soon as Eskom left.

He again informed Eskom that they were still connecting electricity illegally.

Another resident, Zilungile Dakazile, said this is extremely bad because these people know each other very well and some who live in Qadu-Qadu used to rent in the area.

Furthermore, he said some were born and raised in Green Point and their homes are here – and opted to build their shacks in Qadu-Qadu. He said the person who was hit by a hammer is back from the hospital.

Khayelitsha police said cases of malicious damage to property and public violence have been opened. No one has been arrested.