GEORGE NEWS - The entire Zone 6, Asazani, in Thembalethu was without electricity for two days last week, due to illegal connections and vandalism.
George Municipality had to appoint qualified service providers to remove the illegal connections and by the end of last Thursday, amidst day-long protest actions at the entrance to Thembalethu and later in front of the municipality's main building, all power was restored.
Protesters demand legal electrification of their dwellings, saying they can't wait any longer.
Many of the residents live in shacks and make use of illegal electricity connections. One of the community's leaders, Mfundo Fumbata, last week said they will reconnect their illegal connection should the municipality fail to address their needs.
According to a resident who wishes to stay anonymous, this was not an empty statement, since illegal connections have already been made again since the start of last weekend.
"There are currently bad vibes between those who pay for their electricity and those who make illegal connections," he said. "It is just a matter of time and there will be another explosion at the power box and I don't think the municipality will make haste with the repair work."
According to the resident the community will have a meeting soon to discuss the matter.
Supplies and costs
Asked about their communication with the community of Asazani, municipal liaison officer Athane Scholtz said George Municipality will engage with the community directly as is appropriate and not via the media.
"The communities are well aware of the implications of illegal connections, cost restraints on municipalities and the policy of supply to communities that are illegally occupying land," said Scholtz.
"When finances are available, electrification will be done according to pre-determined criteria based on various factors such as legal occupation of land, historical establishment of a particular informal settlement, suitability and safety of electricity at a particular site, sufficient access roads and the existence of other basic services to support installation of safe electricity infrastructure."
Scholtz said the municipality is legally obligated to remove illegal connections to ensure the safety of all users and needs the public's help to have the culprits arrested and prosecuted.
Illegal connections can be reported on 044 803 9222 or 044 801 9202, after hours on 044 801 6300, or at your nearest police station.
Details regarding illegal gatherings and protests can be directed to the police.