A shutdown mass action is being organised by the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO) with a march that took place to the Khutsong Police Station on 05 February 2020. “The intention of the action is to disrupt all services and to bring the township to a standstill,” said Jacob Khawe, a municipal official.
He said the immediate result of this was that service delivery teams of the municipality are prevented to enter the area to render services to the community. This is ironic as one of the issues raised by SANCO is that the municipality is failing to render services to the community, he said.
“The community action is following a period of intense vandalism and theft of municipal infrastructure in Khutsong. An electricity feeder cable to Khutsong South, of more than 700 metres was stolen and the pylons vandalised. The electricity cable supplying the Carletonville Mall has also been stolen twice. These thefts occurred in an area and at times when people must have seen the thieves in action.”
He further said, that the cost of the repairs is borne by the municipality, and in effect by the community and also had the community of Khutsong South without electricity. A contractor was appointed to rebuild the electrical line and when the replacement line was finished on 4 February 2020 and ready to be reconnected, the electricity substation and infrastructure in Khutsong South was vandalised. The SAPS is investigating the matter as it was clear that the purpose of the vandalism was to cause damage, not theft of cables or copper parts. The municipality is working close with all law enforcement agencies to get to the root of the theft and vandalism.
This again had the community without electricity, while the municipality had to spend scarce resources to effect repairs, he added.
“It is unfortunate that the political arena is being extended to disrupt the lives of community members through actions that are not connected to the real issues in the municipality.”
Furthermore he said, It is well know that the Municipality is owing Rand Water and ESKOM. It is also well known that the municipality is keeping to paying the arrears in terms of the commitments made. The rumours and unfounded accusations that electricity load shedding is implemented in Merafong because of monies owed to ESKOM is in stark reality to the factual situation that load shedding is a national issue.
Regarding the continued claims in respect of the investment made in the VBS Bank it is reiterated that the matter was fully investigated and the recommendations resulting from the forensic investigation, conducted by Deloitte on behalf of the Gauteng Provincial Treasury and the Merafong Municipality have been implemented.
“The fact remains that there are communities in Merafong that are not paying for the services that are consumed by them. This is one of the main drivers of the financial difficulties and cash flow problems experienced by the municipality. Communities need to take hands and enable the municipality to improve on service delivery, and that means that services must be paid for.”
The unfortunate effect of the politically driven community protest is that civil society is disrupted, schools are disrupted, with the serious negative impact on our future, with learners denied the opportunity to study in peace, and the municipality is prevented from rendering service to the community, he added.