Zandspruit: Protesters vow to tear down bridge next

Zandspruit: Protesters vow to tear down bridge next

Johannesburg - Residents of Zandspruit Informal Settlement have vowed to tear down a multi-million rand pedestrian bridge (pictured in the background of the main image) if their demand for formal electricity is not met.

On Wednesday afternoon, residents gathered once more to call on Mayor Parks Tau to come to the area so he could listen to their grievances.

They vowed that if he didn't come, they would continue to riot. 

Two police Nyalas and several response teams were at the scene. 

Matshidiso Mfikoe, member of the mayoral committee, visited the residents but they said they wanted to speak to the mayor.

Mayoral spokesperson Phindile Chauke said no notice to meet leaders from the community was received by Mayor Tau. She said Tau set aside one day a week to address community issues.

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For more than a week, several flare ups have occurred in the area. The protests are over the disconnection of illegal electricity points in the area.

According to Alphious Mashile, one of the leaders of the group, the protests started again because meat that had been bought started to rot in a fridge that was disconnected when illegal electricity cuts were made.

Mr. Mashile said the community was even willing to overlook poor sanitation and lack of housing in Zandspruit, if the community could have access to electricity.

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A traffic light was demolished during protest action by residents of Zandspruit. They are demanding basic access to electricity. Credit: Benita Enoch/Newsful: Useful News Now.

Cit of Johannesburg spokesperson Nkosinathi Nkabinde said: City Power, Eskom, the Johannesburg metro police department and SAPS conducted a joint operation to remove the illegal connections because it put the community at risk.

"This (the illegal connections) results in a higher risk of fire and electrocution. City Power’s infrastructure is often a target of vandalism and theft, and the vulnerability of its expansive network of street light poles is also a source of illegal connections."

Mr. Nkaninde said authorities were also clamping down on individuals in the community who profited from the illegal connections.

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A shell from riot ammunition lies on the ground where protesters gathered on Wednesday evening. Credit: Benita Enoch/Newsful: Useful News Now.

“It is from public light poles and transformers that some of the illegal connections draw the power. Over 13,500 kilograms of cables was ripped from the ground and from the poles which were removed."

But residents said that after more than two decades without proper infrastructure, they were tired on relying on illegal connections to sustain themselves. They said even though several basic needs were absent from Zandspruit, they were only asking for the immediate provision of formal electricity.

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Sanitation and housing has been the focus of service delivery protests in the area for several years.

From last week Wednesday at least three separate riots erupted in the area. The protests have resulted in a road closure of part of Beyers Naude highway that runs through the settlement.

Residents said they would protest into the night if they did not hear from Mayor Tau by evening.

Asked why they were targetting the bridge, the residents said it was never used by the community and the money could have been better spent on basic service delivery. 

Captions:

Main image: A handful of protesters spill out into the streets, demanding that Mayor Park Tau come to Zandspruit to discuss delivery of electricity to all areas of the informal settlement. Credit: Benita Enoch/Newsful

 

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