‘AbaQulusi started it’ – Hlobane community

THE Vrede/Cliffdale communities in Hlobane have responded to allegations by municipal officials that they were violent towards illegal connection disconnectors by saying that they know nothing about this.

In an open letter submitted to the Vryheid Herald, community members said that it was, in fact, the municipality that approached and addressed meetings with hostility.

“The municipality called a meeting on February 13, where they were going to address the matter of illegal connections and discuss a way forward. When they arrived on the day, they were accompanied by at least ten police vehicles,” reads the letter.

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The mayor is said to have informed community members that they (as municipal officials) had not come to play on that particular day and that the community would have to listen to what they said without objections.

“The mayor then informed us that he had recently had a meeting with Eskom where he was informed that AbaQulusi Municipality owed R80 million. He said that the reason for the accumulating debt was community members that were stealing electricity and added that community members caught with illegal connections would be fined R30 000,” the letter continues.

Having previously fallen under Macro-Property (previously a mine), the Cliffdale community was handed over to the municipality after the mines were closed.

Various issues have arisen between the municipality and these community members through the years with members of this community claiming to feel neglected by the municipality.

Community members claim that unrest only arose due to how they were being treated by a particular municipal security guard that allegedly gripped a man by the shirt while he was asking questions. The man is said to have been asking whether or not the municipality would make means to build a place where the Cliffdale community could buy electricity closer as travelling to Hlobane costs them money.

“As a community, we have to buy electricity in either Hlobane which costs R14 a return trip or in Vryheid, which costs R40 a return trip. There have also been issues of children being raped while walking from Cliffdale to Hlobane to buy electricity. This is why this matter was being brought up. It needs urgent attention,” the letter goes on.

Feeling furious with the municipality, these community members have since written a letter to the MEC of COGTA, Nomusa Dube-Ncube.

In closing, members of the Cliffdale community said that they are in no way opposing that they should pay for electricity. They were, however, unhappy with the manner in which the municipality was approaching them and making it seem as though the entire community steals electricity.

  AUTHOR
Sine Thwala

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