Ward 19 in Kliptown protests over a lack of service delivery.

Residents from Emva Kwe sporo (behind the railway line) in Kliptown, South West Johannesburg, protested on Monday, February 26, for a lack of service delivery. The protest was over electricity. Kliptown is Soweto’s oldest residential area. It was established in 1891 on a farm called Klipspruit, named after the nearby Klipspruit (rocky stream). By 1903, it had already developed into an informal settlement.

Kliptown is known as the forgotten stepchild by politicians and government officials. Protests aren’t a new thing for them; these residences live under inhuman conditions; they still use bucket systems to relieve themselves and use green mobile toilets as permanent toilets, which are shared by many households. The unemployment in that area has created a hopeless generation that doesn’t see a way out but into crime, gang life, and selling drugs.

Presidents have come and gone, and mayors have come and gone without empowering people in Kliptown. The place has become a dumpsite for human beings who live in conditions that violate their constitutional rights.

On Monday, Kliptown residents took to the streets to protest over a lack of service delivery. Mfana Mbandana, who is the community leader, said, “The main reason why we took to the streets was because on the 22nd of February we were scheduled to have a meeting with housing; we were supposed to talk about them providing electricity for us in order to stop using illegal connections. The department didn’t show up at the meeting that was scheduled for February 22.”

The community leader cites that it was the main reason for us to shut down Kliptown and make sure that shops were closed. All we want is electricity.

Mfana says the intention was to protest for the entire week because we have suffered a lot.

The department negotiated to have a meeting with the angry residents on Friday, but the suggestion was rejected by the protestors, who wanted to have a meeting on Wednesday.

Mfana adds that every time they seek to have a meeting with a government official, the dates are changed or postponed.

Guardian Report spoke to Chuene Tswene from the Department of Human Settlement; they requested that we send a question, and they will get back to us. We did that, and up until this day, we haven’t received any responses.

Ward 19 councillor from Kliptown, Emva Kwe sporo Siphiwe Simelane, said residents’ wants electricity. Currently, the City of Johannesburg is connecting electricity to informal settlements around Johannesburg. As we speak in Mandela Square, an informal settlement in Ward 17 Kliptown has been connected to electricity. That’s the same thing that Ward 19 residents want. At the moment, Ward 19 is using an illegal connection to access electricity.”

Mr. Simelani says “Eskom will assist Kliptown Ward 19 after eighteen months; the community doesn’t agree with that. The counsellors office, human settlement, and relevant MMCs (Members of the Mayoral Committee) that deal with infrastructure as a collective, we tried engaging with city power and Eskom on a strategy to shorten the eighteen months.”

City Power says they are currently fixing a substation station in Eldorado Park; even if City Power connects Ward 19, they will still have to wait for eighteen months, and Eskom says they are currently working on increasing capacity at Moroka substation in Soweto. This isn’t an easy process; it will require the services of engineers to tell us whether the project can be done in less than eighteen months.

Councilor Simelani says “that he is trying to meet with other politicians to look at other services that they can bring to the people of Kliptown in the meantime to make sure that Kliptown is developed. The current conversation is about putting roads and other services in place; for now, I don’t want to commit to things that haven’t been signed off yet.”

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