Enkululekweni (in Mlungisi) residents were disappointed after Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) mayor Luleka Gubula allegedly did not fulfil her promise to restore power which had been off for three weeks in the area.
“We sent out a delegation to visit the mayor on Tuesday last week after we had spent more than a week without electricity as a result of a transformer that blew in the area. The mayor then promised that power would be back by last Thursday when she addressed community members during her visit to the area. We still do not have electricity. No one has bothered to get back to us with information,” said a displeased resident, Elias Magwayi.
Another resident, Mxolisi Stanford, said people were angered because the mayor had indicated that the transformer had been secured and electricity would be back last week. “We had expected that she would get back to us with updates, but instead she failed to communicate. Our councillor is also not visible and also fails to address us affected residents.”
“I live with my 95-year-old grandfather who pays municipal rates. He is diabetic and his treatment needs to be stored in a cool place. This electricity issue has affected us and I have been going up and down so he could at least take his treatment,” said another concerned citizen, Mnqwazi Gqomrwana
The group of angry community members decided to pay an unexpected visit to the town hall on Tuesday, demanding to see the mayor. When The Rep arrived at the offices, municipal law enforcement officials were called to the scene and councillor Zukiswa Ralane appealed to the residents to wait for the mayor at the hall.
Before Gubula could address the group that was waiting at the council chambers, EMLM spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa requested that The Rep leave the meeting and indicated that a statement would be issued on the matter.
Meanwhile, a statement posted by EMLM on social media stated that the municipality was in the process of acquiring a new transformer. “Replacing this transformer has taken longer than initially anticipated. The mayor has assured communities that officials have been instructed to use the quickest possible but legal processes to acquire the transformer. It was agreed that municipal officials must constantly update community leaders on progress.”
In a recording supplied to The Rep of the confrontation at the chambers on Tuesday, Gubula made mention of a number of residents who were not buying electricity in Enkululekweni, indicating that she was in possession of a list with details of people who were not paying for the service.
“Records show that only 11 households are buying electricity out of 449 in Enkululekweni. While we, as government, need to provide services reliably, community members should also be responsible and not tamper with infrastructure. When people avoid paying for municipal services, service delivery is compromised,” read a comment posted by the EMLM on the municipal Facebook page.
Responding to queries sent by The Rep, Kowa said: “The area is infested with illegal connections which the community has admitted to. Community leaders also expressed their commitment to root out illegal connections, but that should have a programme of its own as they are faced with unique problems and reasons for these illegal connections.”
Today, police had to disperse an angry crowd that had blockaded the Whittlesea Road near Victoria Manor Guest House with burning tyres. Read full story in The Rep on Friday