PEOPLE’S POWER: COPS AND RESIDENTS IN TUG OF WAR OVER STOLEN TRANSFORMER

Zukile Majova

In a daring display of electricity theft, residents of Highway Gardens in East London in the Buffalo City Metro created a massive illegal power supply unit fed from a stolen Eskom transformer.

And when cops arrived to disconnect the 11 KW transformer, a scuffle broke out as residents refused to give up their power without a fight. 

The high-voltage, extremely dangerous transformer was connected right in the middle of the squatter camp, without any consideration for the lives of shack dwellers. The transformer was then fenced off with old scraps of corrugated metal to hide it from the police and Eskom officials.

Hundreds of residents and a dozen businesses have been left in the dark after the Metro cut power supply to the area.

On Sunday two metro police officers accompanied by Revenue Protection officials found themselves outnumbered by a dozen residents blocking them from destroying the illegal connections.

The video of the scuffle – now trending on social networks – shows cops and residents fighting over illegal cables.

Buffalo City Metro spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said: “The first video shows people removing cables from a municipal vehicle. The second video shows BCM law enforcement officers trying to retrieve the cable and tussling with community members.”

Unlike many fights involving angry residents and police, officials refused to succumb to the mob or to use firearms.

“The officers remained within the law by using minimum force in the form of pepper spray and only resorted to drawing a firearm when the situation escalated.

“This event demonstrates the severity of the problem that the municipality is faced with in the escalating war against theft, vandalism and illegal connections,” said Ngwenya.

The municipality has conducted raids in different townships and informal settlements in the area resulting in the destruction of some 950 illegal connection points.

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