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Residents of Zandspruit block roads over disconnected electricity connections

Jan Bornman
Johannesburg – Residents of Zandspruit in Johannesburg have vowed to reconnect electricity connections which were disconnected by the city on Wednesday which led to clashes between the community and police.

The Johannesburg Metro Police (JMPD) said on Wednesday that parts of Beyers Naude drive near Zandspruit had been closed off after residents barricaded the road with rocks and burning tyres.

Enos Maake, the leader of the Zandspruit Community Movement, said residents would continue connecting illegal connections until the City of Johannesburg came to them with alternative plans.

"They keep promising us they'll fix things here, but it never happens. Our frustrations are that the community was not informed that they will come cut the electricity," he said.

"They must treat us as human beings and not undermine us," Maake said.

He said he had encouraged the community to reconnect illegal connections and continue blocking the road until their concerns have been addressed.

"Nothing has changed here for years. We will demonstrate until we have electricity or until they come with an alternative plan for us," Maake said.

"Yes, it's illegal connections. But people are trying to make a living. People are trying to survive," he said.

'Tired of this'

Another resident of Zandspruit, who only identified himself as JJ, said he supported the protests.

"They've been promising us for 23 years. We still don't have electricity. I'm tired of this," he said.

"They come and cut the electricity. Our meat is rotting. Our children are supposed to study, but there's no electricity. It's exam time. What must we do," he said.

City Power spokesperson Sol Masolo said: "We have a child that was electrocuted by the illegal connections. This particular one was also dangerous to passing traffic. A bus or truck passing underneath could have been electrocuted.

"I am aware that Eskom has a plan to roll out electricity in the area and City Power will do everything to support Eskom's project because Zandspruit is in Eskom's area of supply."

JMPD spokesperson, Chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar, said they had removed "five truck loads of illegal cable".

"Beyers Naude Drive remains closed this afternoon because protestors have turned violent and began to stoning passing cars," Minnaar said.

He said a heavy police presence remained and motorists were encouraged to make use of alternative routes.
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