Winter has just started and it’s cold. You can’t just cut the power during winter. People live in shacks! No community deserves to live without electricity. The government is doing nothing, plans are always ‘in the pipeline’, and housing projects are ‘soon to be implemented’. The government has been saying this for years but nothing has happened. So the people decided to go take electricity themselves. They didn’t know the police were coming, they weren’t notified [Editor’s note: France 24 contacted CPJ, who denied the residents were not warned].
We have no electricity now so we’re using paraffin or gas stoves for both cooking and boiling water for bathing. Last night I had to buy candles so I could study. To make heat, we make braziers out of empty metal paint tins by drilling holes in them and putting coal and wood inside.
About six or seven years ago people started getting electricity by fixing up wires. Before, only two places had electricity: the youth centre ‘SKY’ and a small community centre ran by nuns (Editor’s note: both buildings were legally connected to the electricity network). Now almost everyone has electricity from the illegal wires, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a house which doesn’t have electricity. People have fridges, microwaves and colour TVs, without electricity you could only have a black and white TV, that would be powered by a car battery.
The protests stopped on Wednesday because people are now looking for new wires so they can reconnect the electricity. There’s no point protesting now, people want solutions. In no more than a week, people will have electricity back. There’s no way we’ll go through even half the winter without electricity.
Protesters in Kliptown, photo taken by Thabo Mbhele on Tuesday May 7