Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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Fatal clashes over illegal power connections in Alex

A man was killed during clashes over the disconnection of illegal electricity connections in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, on Tuesday

The killing happened on London Road near the Alex Mall with the community claiming that he was shot with live ammunition by a security guard from the centre.

Another person was injured after being hit by a rubber bullet after the city’s police fired at large crowds protesting against the disconnections by City Power in River Park.

Stun grenades were also fired.

Residents told Sowetan that Mthokozisi Sithole was rushed to a nearby clinic after his shooting but was declared dead on arrival.

His brother, who would not identify himself, confirmed the incident but said the family did not want to talk about it.

Provincial police spokesperson Brig Brenda Muridili said the police were investigating a case of murder.

“It is alleged that a security guard from Alex Mall fired a shot towards the protesters. It was then discovered that one of the protesters, 27, was hit. He was rushed to hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

“The police are investigating a case of murder and the suspect, 43, has been taken into custody. His firearm has been seized. It will be taken to forensics for ballistic testing.”

During the operation, angry community members of River Park took to the streets and barricaded roads with burning tyres and large rocks.

When Sowetan arrived on the scene where Sithole was killed, there were six cartridges on the ground.

Founding shareholder of Alex Mall Mpho Motsumi said the mall was waiting for a report on the incident from the owner of the security company, Godfrey Msezane of Msezane Security Services.

Msezane said he was at a physiotherapy session and would only be able to respond to Sowetan’s inquiry after half an hour.

He had not done so at the time of going to print.

One of the residents, Victoria Khumalo, 52, said they had resorted to illegal connections because they have not had electricity for two years.

“We have been staying here since 2019. City Power promised us electricity. They haven’t provided it for us. We are struggling to cook and bathe with hot water,” said Khumalo.

Another resident, who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity, said their children were struggling to do their schoolwork.

“What do they expect us to do? We have no power. We cannot help our children with their homework. They study using candles,” she said.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said they had never promised the residents electricity.

He said they told residents that they were not responsible for providing them with electricity and that they should approach the council with their application.

He said illegal connections were a danger to the safety of the residents in the surrounding areas.  

“We have identified hotspots like River Park and some informal settlements on London Road for removal of illegal electricity connections. We did manage to successfully remove those illegal connections and we are doing this because not only are they dangerous to the residents, especially children, they are also costly to the city of Johannesburg.

“They are also inconveniencing the residents around [them] who are supplied from the connection points where these illegal connections are coming from. They vandalised the equipment so there is a lot of overloading and outages that are happening in the area due to these illegal connections. We managed to remove them in River Park and Greenville. These connections pose a danger to people as many people have been electrocuted because of them,” said Mangena.



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