Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chiawelo Residents Not Backing Down

Sthembiso Sithole

Chiawelo residents are still refusing to back down from their demands of cheaper electricity tariffs despite five community members including two minors over the burning down of the former councillor’s house earlier this week.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa lambasted the community when he visited with Police Commissioner Bheki Cele. As they arrived in their lavish cars, journalists and residents were waiting on Nefefe Street outside the house of ward 12 councillor Johannes Nemaungani.

Apart from the burning down of the house - the cars of Miriam Ramafola and Nemaungani were also stoned. Ramafola told Joun’Tau about the nightmare she witnessed while her grandchildren were in the house.

“I received a call from my cousin who told me that there are people on the way to my house and they say they are going to burn everything. It is then that I quickly rushed outside to lock the small gate and unfortunately I forgot to lock the garage.”

She says while she was hiding in the house, protesters were already outside braking windows and later managed to open the unlocked garage and torched her car.

“In 2007 Eskom proposed to change old electrical boxes to new green boxes that will force community members to buy electricity through prepaid cards. They all agreed on this installation of green metred boxes in the meeting,” Ramafola elaborated.

According to the former councillor this is the second attack that has occurred in her house. ESKOM spokesperson Hillary Joffe explained that no metred boxes will be removed.

“Our technicians were working since Tuesday to solve the crisis and most of them were threatened. In the past two weeks we experienced the same problem and we are not planning to move any metred box,” said Joffe.

23-year-old resident, Gift Matu, says the councillor lied to them about the green boxes failed to tell them proper procedure on how they would be explained.

“We are told to pay R50 every day in order for us to get electricity. Miriam told us that we had no choice but to pay for these,” he said.

Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Mpho Tau, urged the community not to repeat the incident.

Addressing the crowd Police Minister, Nathi Mthetwa described the incident as terrifying. “We want everybody to work with the law force agency. Everyone must condemn this horrible situation,” Mthethwa said.

While the minister was speaking, an elderly lady shouted at the minister saying he drives nice cars without understanding their plight.

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