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Power has been restored to Chiawelo, where more than 600 households were without electricity after protesting vandals damaged substations.
MORE than 20 suspects have been arrested in connection with the violent attacks and destruction of property on 5 July in Chiawelo, Soweto.

 

Acting executive mayor Matshidiso MfikoeActing executive mayor Matshidiso MfikoeLast week, residents protested against the installation of prepaid electricity meters, with some going on the rampage. Vandals sabotaged electricity substations, set alight a councillor’s house, torched a car and damaged the house belonging to a former councillor.
 

These suspects appeared in the Protea Magistrate’s Court in Soweto on 8 July on charges of arson, malicious damage to property, public violence and attempted murder. They have been remanded in custody until their next court appearance, scheduled for 15 July.

Five suspects were arrested initially.

Matshidiso Mfikoe, the acting mayor of Johannesburg, says the arrest and appearance of the suspects in court highlights the City’s commitment to taking swift and decisive action against incidents of intimidation, violence and vandalism.

“We are pleased to note the progress made with the investigation as well as the decision by the court not to grant them bail,” Mfikoe said. “This will send a clear message to other vandals to refrain from illegal action.”

Eskom technicians went to work in the area in the early hours of the morning of 6 July to try to restore power to over 600 households. The households have since been reconnected.

City officials also met members of the Chiawelo community on Thursday, 7 July to try to find solutions to ongoing electricity issues in the township. Discussions were had on pre-paid meters, high tariffs and the Siyasizana programme.

Siyasizana
Siyasizana is the City’s extended social package, set up to help those who earn less than R3 366 a month get basic services such as electricity.

 

Premier Nomvula Mokonyane will help build councillors' housesPremier Nomvula Mokonyane will help build councillors' housesThe meeting resulted in a promise from the City manager, Mavela Dlamini, that Joburg would continue to work closely with community leaders to identify other electricity-related issues and find workable solutions.
 

The City and Eskom have apologised to those who were inconvenienced by the outages.

“There is a very small minority of ringleaders responsible for the damage,” Mfikoe said. “More than 90 percent of Chiawelo residents are paying for their electricity and we will ensure that they receive the services they are entitled to.”

The community has been asked to support the police in resolving electricity issues by reporting any acts of vandalism, illegal connections and cable theft.

As well as finding solutions to the electricity problems, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane will visit the two councillors, Mirriam Ramafola and Joe Nemaungane, whose homes were set alight to help them rebuild, on 17 July. In the spirit of Mandela month, Mokonyane is appealing to residents and private companies to donate building materials, time and skills.

“We can never compensate them for the emotional distress they are going through but we can assist in restoring their dignity,” she said.

Those willing to help can email mandeladay@gauteng.gov.za with details of what they would like to donate.

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