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South Africa: Ward Councillor’s Office Torched in Kariega Protest

Parts of KwaNobuhle without electricity since Friday

Parts of KwaNobuhle township in Kariega are still in darkness despite the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s assertion that power was restored this week. This angered some residents who then torched ANC ward councillor Lungile Langbooi’s office on Tuesday evening.

Earlier on Tuesday, GroundUp reported that about 50,000 residents from six wards in the city had been without electricity since Friday due to cable theft.

Mayor Retief Odendaal announced a reward of R20,000 for information that leads to the arrest of cable thieves. He also said he had “a strong suspicion” that the recent spate of cable theft and vandalism was sabotage.

On Wednesday morning, the partially charred council office was closed. There were burnt tyres, debris and rubble on the road. Council staff and people wearing ANC branded clothes had gathered. Langbooi told GroundUp that he was okay. He then drove away.

Police spokesperson Sandra Janse van Rensburg said no case had yet been opened.

Peace Village resident Lwamila Tayi said, “We are living in hell. Salons are closed, paraffin is sold out, spaza shops don’t sell meat anymore as it rots, and our cellphones are dead since Friday. We now depend on birds that are chirping to know that it’s morning or taxis that hoot.”

Ward 45 Councillor Sabelo Mabuda (ANC) said that the areas where power had not yet been restored included Peace Village, Mabandla, Mgolodela, Mdledle, Rhayi, Nkulu, and parts of wards 44 and 46. “We continue to inform residents through social media networks and other platforms that the [infrastructure] is still under repairs. Only feeder 1 was fixed on Monday night,” he said.

Mayor Odendaal on Wednesday morning said, “Yesterday evening (Tuesday), I was informed that the repair work having been completed on the 66kV line, there was another instance of cable theft on the aerial bundle conductor.

“This unfortunately means that although the electricity has been restored to the majority of KwaNobuhle, supply to wards 44, 46 and 47 are still affected. Municipal officials were prevented from accessing the site yesterday afternoon by some understandably very angry residents.”

Odendaal promised that Mayco Member for Electricity and Energy Lance Grootboom would personally oversee the repair work today.

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