Residents complain the government is not building enough housing connected to water and electricity supplies, leaving them no choice but to siphon off electricity from other sources.
Residents in Johannesburg’s Kliptown area were outraged to find their electricity supplies abruptly cut off on Tuesday, May 7. A team of police officers and representatives from local rail and electricity companies removed power cables residents had illegally installed to redirect electricity to their community. Not prepared to go through the winter without electric lights and heating, they hit the streets to chase the unwelcome guests out of their neighbourhood.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, protesters hurled stones, burnt tyres and threw rubbish on the railway line which separates the prosperous from the less developed part of Kliptown. Residents living in the poorer settlements had hooked up cables to tap in to the electricity network provided by City Power Johannesburg (CPJ) for residents on the other side of the railtrack and the train company, Metrorail.
It is not the first, nor is it likely to be the last time illegal electricity cables are removed from neighbourhoods not officially connected to the electricity network. CPJ says it had already removed illegal cables in Kliptown eight months ago and that it carries out cable removing operations every month across Johannesburg, only to find residents quickly find new cables and reconnect.