Lighting up the way

The City of Cape Town’s electrical department connecting the Texas informal settlement to the grid.

The future looks bright for residents living in the Texas informal settlement in Hangberg since the start of phase two of the electricity roll-out.

Last week, the City of Cape Town, in partnership with the Peace and Mediation Forum (PMF) and residents, started installing prepaid meters, which will make things lighter for 10 families during a very dark time.

Fayroes Mathee spent the last two years living in a wendy house in Texas with her four-year-old daughter – without electricity.

The 27-year-old, who works at the information office at Captain Jacks at the harbour, said she had to use electricity from a neighbour’s supply to keep the lights on in their home.

“Having our own electricity is a big relief as in winter I can make use of the electricity in my way and on my own terms, to keep warm and make food,” she proudly said.

Because Ms Mathee didn’t have electricity to cook with, her grandmother cooked for her every day.

“My granny had to cook on a daily basis, but she is now at the age where she needs to rest, so I can finally cook for myself and my family now,” she said.

“I can even start cooking for my granny now and allow her to rest.”

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said she had four children and her husband worked at sea.

“There were plenty of times I had to let my children eat cold, cold food because everybody was struggling here.

“We had people help us from time to time, but that only lasts for so long,” the unemployed woman said.

He explained that the PMF had, from the start, been facilitating the project, along with residents in the community, and that to date, they had ensured that 60 shacks around the Hangberg area were supplied with electricity.

“This has been a long and tiresome process for the PMF with all the unnecessary instigated riots, false cases, harassment, propaganda and the undecided and unjustifiable High Court Case against the Hangberg Community, but this is the start of electrification for a lot of Informal Hangberg residents that amount to a current and growing list of 180,” Mr Abrahams said.

Earlier this year, a handful of residents had stopped City workers from rolling out yet another phase in the Hangberg Improvement Development Area (HIDA). The connection to electricity was halted as City workers were chased away.

He explained that the residents who benefited from phase 2 had been decided and agreed upon by the City, but he remained hopeful that the remaining 170 dwellings on the list would be electrified in the near future. “We are pleading with our community to please allow the City officials to come and do their work in the Hangberg community to provide our essential services, without being intimidated, harassed or threatened,” Mr Abrahams said.

“Thank you Hangberg community. Watch this space for more much-needed and essential services coming to your areas.”

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said the City were “thrilled” to be able to provide the Texas area with their first legal, compliant and “life changing electricity meters”.

He explained that the project would see multiple areas of Hangberg and its residents receive safe and legal power.

Mr Quintas highlighted that the project had been stalled in many areas on multiple occasions by “thugs” from within the community.

“The community must remember that the City is bound by legislation and frameworks which disallow us from rolling out this service to people inhabiting land parcels that do not fall under our jurisdiction and this includes land belonging or other organs of state, as well as privately owned properties,” Mr Quintas said.

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