It has been more than two months since the residents in Bophelong had electricity. With the cold front having hit the region for the past few weeks, members of the community are no longer prepared to accept any of the explanations that are dished out as to why they have this long blackout. They decided to take the law into their hands to demand justice. The protest actions also led to some looting of foreign-owned tuck shops.
The Eskom Sub-station in NW7 Vanderbjlpark, situated not far from Bophelong and supplying the electricity to the Western part of Vanderbjlpark and the entire Bophelong, had imploded in early March this year. Residents were not happy that only Bophelong was in the dark. “We want Emfuleni management to also switch off the lights in NW7 Vanderbjlpark, and not only leaving us in the dark here in Bophelong as we share the same power from this sub-station that they say they are fixing” said one of the angry residents.
Over this past weekend, Curie Rd, dividing Bophelong and Vanderbjlpark, has been closed with stones and garbage, and furthermore local businesses were targeted with most of the residents helping themselves with groceries and other staff sold in these tuck shops. “Our children have started going to schools and with no electricity in this damning cold, it is hard waking up in the morning with no hot water or heating options. We have to put fire outside and boil water in a boiler or pot” said one of the parents who was really furious about the whole situation.
Bophelong had many interventions related to their current electricity black outs as it is now a long term problem. The Emfuleni Electricity Unit had procured electricity cables to be installed in Bophelong about a month ago, and these cables were stolen immediately after being installed. Perhaps one of the many sources to the problem they have could be crime. When unemployment is a looming issue across many townships in the region, many would take advantage as they find resorting to do crime as a solution out of poverty.
As the protests started over the weekend, on Sunday evening Karibu! was contacted by a source who said “guys you need to come and cover this story, one of the young boys from our community was shot by the police” said one of the community members in Bophelong. A residents told Karibu! that the protest was soon handled by the police on Sunday evening when things got out of hand, and “we had to flee for our lives as the police started shooting” he said.
This article was submitted on 16 June 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.