There has been an increase in the number of service delivery protests - especially over lack of electricity, in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
In the past two weeks, there had been over nine service protests, with some turning violent in Ekurhuleni, eMalahleni, Standerton, Soweto and parts west of Johannesburg,
The Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) confirmed that the situation was now calm, after demonstrators from Pumula Section, Vosloorus and Spruitview shut down the N3 freeway on Thursday night over lack of electricity.
There, a private truck carrying undisclosed goods was looted and torched by angry protesters. Vehicles were stoned and traffic affected, with motorists having to use alternative routes to get home and to work.
The protests saw protesters barricading the road with burning tyres and debris.
“Both direction of the N3 in Spruitview the road has been cleared, and traffic is flowing, though on the R103 the road is still barricaded with rocks. Law enforcers are still on site monitoring the situation. One truck was reported burnt, investigations are unfolding,” said EMPD spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Kepebogile Thepa.
Other parts of Ekurhuleni, including Kwa-Thema and some sections of Selcourt, have not had electricity since last Thursday.
“We have a blackout in our area ... we have been without power since last Thursday ... our fridges have melted and we had to throw away food in this tough economic time. We demand to have electricity,” resident Nomshado Thwala from Kwa-Thema said.
The City of Ekurhuleni, via its Twitter page, said: “It is anticipated that the temporary route installation will take around seven days and should carry all customers if electricity is used sparingly. The community is urged to be patient and allow the team to work in order to restore power as soon as possible”.
Residents of Munyaka Estate in Waterfall, Midrand also protested by closing the entrance and exist of the luxury estate.
They said they had not had electricity and water since Monday.
Some residents were seen braaing meat on braai-stands placed near the gate in protest.
“We pay a lot of money to not have basic devices such as electricity and water. My neighbour is in arrears at a tune of R15 000 for electricity but we hardly have electricity,” said resident Tumelo Madisha.
Some of the protests were in Johannesburg, Orlando West in Soweto, Florida, Fleurhof and Maraisburg, where residents complained about service delivery failure, especially lack of electricity.
South Africa has been dubbed “the protest capital of the world”, with one of the highest rates of public protests in the world.
The trend of protests is known to increase towards election periods, and now the country is preparing to head to the polls next year.
Political analyst Professor Dirk Kotze said this confirmed that close to the past few elections there was an increase in demonstrations, and more protests were expected, especially over electricity.
“There is a correlation between the two (protests and elections) but it also depends on the issue. Electricity demonstrations in general will increase,” he said.
This week, Eskom warned South Africans to brace themselves for cold and dark months as the power utility would likely increase loadshedding to stage 8.
Acting chief executive Calib Cassim said loadshedding was necessary to keep control of the transmission grid, which is critical.
Eskom apologised for the continued roll out of load shedding, and also advised consumers to use electricity sparingly.
However, that did not sit well with young Ekurhuleni fast food business owner Busisiwe Danster, of Let’s EatB, who questioned what was meant by sparingly as there was hardly any electricity owing to constant loadshedding.
Links for Twitter mention - https://twitter.com/abramjee/status/1659265801742872576?s=46&t=oeMLeLVU-0aswZe6EmGwPA