Protests erupted in a number of suburbs in Pietermaritzburg yesterday after some residents were left without electricity for almost a week.
A number of suburbs, including Grange, Southgate and Himeville, were left without electricity for days after the Masons Mill substation exploded last week.
The early morning protests created chaos on the roads leaving frustrated motorists in standstill traffic for hours.
Community members took to the streets in the Richmond Crest, Bisley, Southgate and Grange areas demanding the immediate restoration of power.
Residents burnt tyres and debris in anger as they demanded that electricity be restored to their homes.
Msunduzi Municipality said that the protests resulted in a number of road closures on Richmond Road, Trelawney Road and Gladys Manzi Road.
“Our Msunduzi traffic police have been deployed on the roads to divert traffic. Public order police and Alexandra police station have also been informed,” city spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said.
She confirmed the explosion at a substation and said it was being attended to.
“Our technical team has been working around the clock to restore power in these affected areas. We urge the community to remain calm,” she said.
However, some residents said they were “fed up” with the municipality’s lack of maintenance of critical infrastructure and that the protests were “the last resort for desperate people”.
“It’s been too many days and the waiting keeps getting extended,” said Simon Zulu.
Another resident, Shaun Maharaj, said that most households were struggling in the bitter Pietermaritzburg winter without electricity.
In Copesville protests erupted on Chief Mhlabunzima Road near Eastwood. Protesters burnt tyres and debris, blocking the road.
Copesville ward councillor Spha Madlala said the protests had been co-ordinated by “unscrupulous” people trying to get him out of his position.
Madlala said that the protests were ostensibly related to a housing project, “but this is about getting me out of my job. There are fewer than 20 people protesting but they are causing serious damage,” he said.