Tshwane residents protest after missing Sundowns vs Barca game due to power cuts
Anger over rolling power failures in Mamelodi and surrounding areas in Tshwane has reached boiling point, with residents saying they have had enough.
The last straw was when the residents were unable to watch their home team, Mamelodi Sundowns, take on La Liga champions FC Barcelona on Wednesday evening.
Residents voiced their frustration by taking to the streets, burning tyres and blocking the main roads into the township when they realised that power, which had been down the whole day, would not be restored by kick-off.
“It is our home team hosting La Liga champions and we are unable to watch the game. That is painful. This is why we decided enough is enough and people were out on the streets spontaneously. It was not planned. We are fed up,” resident Sydney Zondo said.
Aubrey Ndala of Nellmapius near Mamelodi said for the past two weeks there is no power between 6pm and 5am.
He said the problem was that residents were renting out backrooms and using one electricity box with the capacity to power one household.
“This results in overload and causes power outage. There is also the issue of illegal electricity connections compounding the problem,” he said.
Mamelodi East resident, Alpheus Sealetsa, said the Wednesday protest was the beginning of more protests to come.
He said what angered the community most was lack of communication from the municipality, saying people would be better prepared if they knew of a looming power cut and how long it would last.
“There will be more protests. We are fed up. The issue of electricity is being politicised while people are suffering on the ground. It is a DA-led municipality but on the ground the councillors are ANC. People hear nothing from the councillors who are supposed to inform them about problems so that they can blame the DA,” Sealetsa said.
Selby Bokaba, City of Tshwane spokesperson, said power outages were a major challenge in region six, which includes Mamelodi, Eersterust and Nellmapius.
He said the main causes were system overload due to cold weather conditions, illegal connections, cable theft and rampant vandalism of infrastructure.
“People vandalise sub-stations, which take three days to fix and parts have to be imported. Between November last year and March (2018) we have spent R62-million replacing cables and the figure is rising,” Bokaba said.
He said their technicians were attacked, robbed and hi-jacked when they go to the areas to do repairs.
Bokaba pleaded with residents to protect their infrastructure report and demand answers when they see a person walk into a substation.
South African soccer fans came together on May 17 2018 to watch a friendly match between FC Barcelona and Mamelodi Sundowns. The match was organised as a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s centenary.