Protests Surge in eThekwini Due to Power and Water Shortages

Frustrated people in various districts of Durban took to the streets on Wednesday to protest power and water disruptions.

Residents have complained about neglected water and power outages since February 27, when eThekwini municipality employees affiliated with the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) went on strike for allegedly illegal wages.

The striking workers wanted a 15% salary raise or an R4 000 wage boost to match the wages of workers in other metros.

Residents in Lindelani, north of Durban, blocked down roads earlier on Wednesday with burning vehicle tires and concrete bricks.

They complained about being without power for over a week.

Residents in nearby Phoenix were also seen lighting tyres, shouting, and chanting.

One angry resident said: “There’s no indication when [electricity is] going to be restored. We have complained every day, but there’s no response. Only neighbouring communities are getting help.”

“We are just told that municipal workers are fearing for their lives.”

Some KwaMashu residents reported not having access to water since Sunday.

On Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal police detained five of many women at the Thokoza hostel in the CBD after they allegedly “threw objects” at the officers.

The women’s hostel has been without power for about two weeks, and the women, the majority of whom are impoverished, complained that their food was rotting since the fridges were not working. They also stated that they were unable to iron clothes for their school-aged children, and that the power loss jeopardized their safety.

Samwu put off its strike on Monday after talks with the mayor.

However, as of Wednesday afternoon, trash remained uncollected throughout the city, and complaints about a lack of water and electricity persisted.

Municipality response

Mxolisi Kaunda, mayor of eThekwini, told reporters on Wednesday that 88 workers had been sacked for participating in an illegal strike that had resulted in “a massive service delivery backlog” during the previous two weeks.

He stated that 81 additional employees had been suspended, and 1 891 had received misbehavior letters.

Disciplinary hearings for the suspended personnel are scheduled for the next three working days.

The mayor decried the violence that characterized the strike, noting that at least one person, a cemetery supervisor in Umlazi, was slain during protests.

According to Kaunda, the authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding her death.

He stated that most employees had since returned to work, and he was sure that the backlogs will be handled within the next month.

Kaunda said: “As of yesterday, we have started to see the majority of employees returning to work, particularly at engineering, electricity and water and sanitation units.

“We anticipate that we will be able to clear the waste backlog within two weeks, especially in the vast southern region of the city – from Umlazi up to Umkhomazi.”

He said that, since Tuesday, electricity faults had been “reduced from 80 to 50”.

Kaunda added that police and private security companies were escorting staffers attending to areas affected by water and power outages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

COVID Lowered Life Expectancy by 1.6 Years Worldwide – New Study

Joshlin Smith Kidnapping: Three Abandon Bail, Charges Withdrawn Against ‘Sangoma’