Children pay ultimate price of illegal electricity connections

Electricity: 123RF: Stock Image/ Wang Tom
Electricity: 123RF: Stock Image/ Wang Tom

Residents of Marikana‚ north of Pretoria‚ have turned their settlement into a death trap out of desperation for electricity‚ with the children paying the ultimate price of electrocution from the illegally connected power.

The electricity - connected directly on the heavy-current overhead power lines - powers the sprawling settlement. But the wires hanging like rags on poles and laid bare on the surface have since electrocuted two children who were playing innocently.

Police spokesman Captain Steven Maluleka said they have opened an inquest into the death of a 7-year-old boy who was electrocuted when he came into contact with the wires over a week ago.

His life cut short by one of the cables that have made playing grounds treacherous minefields waiting to claim the next victim.

Community leader Mojalefa Sebelwane said residents were desperate for electricity to the point of putting their lives and those of their children at risk. He said they had marched‚ protested‚ petitioned authorities about their plights but that there was no hope in sight.

“To show that they were willing to pay for the service‚ residents even engaged the services of a private contractor and some people even paid the contractor R3 500. But the project stopped because we felt that people should not be paying for services that government must provide‚” Sebelwana said.

He said all they received from the office of Mandla Nkomo‚ member of the mayoral committee for human settlement‚ were promises.

Attempts to reach Nkomo for comment have been successful.

Sebelwane said the electrification of the area was urgent as more people were connecting illegally‚ exposing more children to electrocution.

A 2-year-old girl‚ Lebo‚ was killed instantly in May when she stepped on a live electricity wire while chasing after a ball barefoot in front outside parents’ yard.

Residents said they dug in the cables but these get exposed when it rains‚ saying they were well aware of the dangers of illegal connection but that they have no choice.

“There are very few people who have not connected. It is very dangerous but life without electricity is impossible these days‚ especially in these areas‚” said a resident who did not want to be named.

He said they have lived in the area‚ next to the Tswaing Meteorite Crater‚ for the past 10 years‚ but have no basic services like water.

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