Frustrated Ezibeleni residents recently confiscated municipal vehicle keys in protest against what they call ‘uncaring behaviour’ by Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) officials after they were left in the dark for almost eight days.
The zone 1 area experienced power cuts following strong winds that hit Komani recently last week. Since then, some houses in the area are yet to have power with cables still disconnected and electricity power boxes destroyed.
Furious community members took the keys to the vehicle after an altercation with technicians whom they claimed were working while inebriated. Subsequently, the vehicles remained in Ezibeleni the whole weekend without a word from the municipality.
“What frustrated us is that a private contractor came and fixed some of the disconnected areas. When we asked them about the rest of the work, they said it was going to be done by municipal technicians. When the technicians arrived it was already dark. The same technicians then insisted the work was supposed to have been done by the contractor,” said the ward councillor, Lonwabo Nondyola.
Nondyola claimed after a phone call with management at technical services no satisfactory answer was given and that is when the residents took the keys.
“The vehicles stayed with us the whole weekend and we had to call them again on Sunday to ask when they were planning to fix the electricity,” he said.
The councillor said they were disappointed at the manner in which the whole situation was handled as residents were not respected.
“Some homes are still without power. I hear some people are being told to buy cables themselves. An elderly woman is still traumatised because her house almost burned down. The way municipal workers dealt with us was very bad. We were insulted over the phone when trying to enquire what was happening. After we took the initiative to go to technical services on Monday what had kept us in the dark for almost the whole week was fixed within 30 minutes,” said Nondyola.
“Since Wednesday they have been getting here late, after dark. On the first day they said there was no truck. The next day they came smelling like alcohol. On Friday we stood in the dark with technicians who did not know what they were doing because they had been drinking,” added a resident, Seliyanga Raraza.
In response to the incident over the vehicles, EMLM spokesperson, Lonwabo Kowa, said while an investigation would be conducted about the behaviour of the technicians, the municipality denounced the confiscation of vehicles.
“The fault was resolved and power supply restored. Community members raised concerns about the conduct of some technicians and this matter is being dealt with internally. We, however, condemn the confiscation of municipal vehicles as a means of getting attention to resolve faults. When not satisfied with the service being rendered by officials, residents should inform their ward councillors,” said Kowa.