24 arrested in Tongaat electrocution protests

FILE PICTURE: Power lines. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

FILE PICTURE: Power lines. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

Twenty-four people were arrested on Wednesday following protests in Tongaat, north of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal police said.

The 24 would face charges of public violence, Captain Thulani Zwane said in a statement.

The afternoon Daily News reported that the protesters, from the Emona area of Tongaat, converged on the eThekwini municipal offices in Tongaat demanding to meet mayor James Nxumalo.

According to the report, they were angry about the deaths of a teenager and two men on Tuesday. A 19-year-old man was electrocuted while illegally making a connection to the electricity supply. He fell into a swamp, his 23-year-old brother tried to save him, but was also electrocuted.

A 17-year-old boy tried in vain to rescue the two, but succumbed to his injuries en route to a local clinic.

The protesters wanted to be connected to the electricity grid to prevent illegal connections and similar tragedies.

eThekwini Metro mayor James Nxumalo said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon that he had received a report from the municipality’s electricity department, which indicated that an illegal connection was responsible for the loss of life.

“I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their loved ones. This must be viewed as a lesson to our people that illegal electricity connections are not only bad for the economy of the city but are a hazard to the lives of the people who reside in these communities.”

He also warned against violent public protests.

“We are aware of the situation in the area and we are calling for people to be calm and not resort to violence and vandalism of public infrastructure. These violent protest actions have also reversed key successes achieved over the years and add further financial strain to the city coffers,” said Nxumalo.

He said police had dispersed the protesters by 11am.

– Sapa


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