Keeping her medication in the right temperature is an endeavour that costs Sinah Mahlaba at least R500 a month. And this is a steep price to pay for the pensioner who is taking care of her herself and her disabled son.

“The diabetes injections I must take are supposed to be in kept in a fridge because if not, they become poisonous. That is why I am forced to buy ice blocks to maintain the temperature as required. I wouldn’t be struggling so much if we had electricity in this area,” said Ms Mahlaba.

The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs visited Nellmapius Ext 22 as part of its oversight programme to assess the state of municipalities in the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. The residents of Ext 22 petitioned the committee to deal with the lack of electricity in their area and the committee decided to visit the area to assess if there was progress.

“It is disheartening that the people of this area, who are mostly people with disabilities, continue to live without electricity despite the assurance given to the committee that processes are underway to electrify the project. We did not find a contractor on site and seemingly the February 2021 commitment made by the Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance will not be met,” said Ms Faith Muthambi, the Chairperson of the committee.

The area was a turnkey contract where the contractor is responsible for both the design and complete construction of a development, which has now resulted in an uncompleted project without electrical reticulation. While the residents have water and sewage reticulation, the project was handed over without electricity and the community has been waiting for the reticulation of electricity since 2016.

As a result of the darkness, the community is experiencing a high rate of crime which is compounded by the fact that there is no police station close by. What baffled the committee more was the fact that the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality had reticulated electricity to a nearby squatter camp that mushroomed after the residents of Ext 22 took occupation of the houses.

The community also complained about a lack of coordination between government departments that have left the community with only houses but no economic and social amenities that are necessary to make the area a human settlement. “As a country we took a decision to move away from housing to human settlements as a way of ensuring that people have access to the necessary amenities where they stay. This is the reason we are calling for cooperation between the different spheres of government,” Ms Muthambi emphasised.

The committee has thus requested the department and the City of Tshwane to address the issue of electricity to the residents of Ext 22 as per its (the City’s) commitment.    

By Malatswa Molepo
14 October 2020