SANDF protects Eskom workers in Khayelitsha

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SANDF protects Eskom workers in Khayelitsha
SANDF protects Eskom workers in Khayelitsha

About a month ago, the South African National Defence Force was deployed to various areas on the Cape Flats to assist police with their battle against gangs. But on Tuesday, the army accompanied police to safeguard Eskom workers who were removing illegal electricity connections into Qandu-qandu informal settlement in Khayelitsha.

The settlement has no basic services and residents there depend on izinyoka (illegal connections) for electricity. On Tuesday, residents looked on as wires were disconnected from their shacks. Several people questioned the army’s presence and its role during the removals.

“We will connect again even if we have to use barbed wire,” shouted one resident.

“The army is here to intimidate us so that we do not fight against this oppression,” said resident Siphumelele Doyi. “People here if they thought it was only the municipality that does not want us here must think again. Even our national government is anti-black because the army and Eskom are both national entities,” he said.

Resident Asithandile Myeki said: “We depended on that electricity and now it is gone. I do not think we will let this go. We don’t have water here and now electricity too.”

Qandu-qandu is a relatively new settlement and is not yet in the City of Cape Town’s database. As a result, it has not received any basic services like water and sanitation. The settlement is on wetlands and the municipality has now suggested that residents should relocate.

Residents call for services

Community leader and Qandu-qandu committee chairperson Ntombomzi Mafaya said: “When did this municipality care about shack dwellers? We are flooded now for almost a month after heavy rains. We have no toilets to relieve ourselves.”

Charlotte Powell, spokesperson for the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre, said the only solution for Qandu-qandu is relocation. “The land was illegally occupied and no basic services are in place. The Disaster Risk Management Centre made an assessment and requested further assistance from the City’s Informal Settlement Management and roads and stormwater departments as well as from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA),” she said.

Alderman Grant Twigg, acting Mayco Member for Human Settlements, said: “Current and planned programmes must be respected, and work cannot be conducted in an ad hoc manner where new illegal settlements are formed, demanding the same services that those who have been waiting for longer are due to receive.”

Axolile Notywala, the General Secretary of the Social Justice Coalition, said the City has a responsibility to provide services for all residents. “The City needs to explain how and on what basis it has taken this decision on this particular community. We know of other informal settlements of similar age where the City has engaged with the community about putting in temporary services,” he said.

This story first appeared on GroundUp

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