Friday, July 8, 2011

Chiawelo Residents Meet to Demand the Release of those Arrested

Sthembiso Sithole

Chiawelo residents are demanding the release of those arrested for the burning down of a former councillor’s house and the attack of the new councillor’s car and on Friday they protested outside court where those arrested earlier in the week were appearing. They say the case should not have been postponed.

On Wednesday evening there was an emergency meeting in the township where their way forward was discussed.

An estimated 2000 residents attended the Jo’burg City emergency meeting on former councillor Miriam Ramafola, newly elected councillor Johannes Nemangauni and the green metred electricity boxes that started all the trouble. As Eskom General Manager Bandile Jack was approaching the podium the crowds started singing struggle songs.

Jack told the crowd why some had their power switched off. “It started when we switched off electricity for those who had illegal connections,” he said.

His message seemed to have been falling on deaf ears as some were calling him names with a few youths waving posters written “Green Boxes Down”.

A 70-year-old woman identifying herself as MaTshabalala complained said she grew up in the area and the metred box grievances have been going on for a while and said the initial promise was that they would be removed in 2007.

“We are finished by this electricity, we pay a huge amount of money with our pension money. It is unfair,” MaTshabalala said.

Mayoral committee member, Matshidiso Mfikoe, told the residents that they embarrassed themselves while SAPS representative Simon Mpembe said none of the 25 arrested will be released as the community demands.

“Police are not responsible to the release of people who are arrested, the court is responsible,” he elaborated.

Some community members left early swearing and turning chairs upside down.

Those who remained behind were told to register with Siyasiza Expanded Social Package. This initiative is offered to those who are disadvantaged and offers free basic water, electricity and create short, long term job path.

Eskom promised to come back and switch on the power for those who have been switched off.

The 25 will appear in court on Friday next week.

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