Angry villagers blockade N2 Highway in Eastern Cape

JANUARY 5, 2015

Eastern Cape police on Monday resorted to using rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of villagers who blockaded the N2 highway between Mount Frere and Mount Ayliff near the provincial border with KwaZulu-Natal.

The residents of Mhlotsheni and Qhanqo villages reportedly blockaded the road for more than four hours, demanding the electrification of their homes after having waited for more than 20 years.

They burnt tyres and threw stones at passing vehicles.

Community spokesperson, Lungelani Mrhamba, told the SABC that last year, residents were promised that electrification would resume in the villages but nothing has been done.

“Everybody in South Africa will see and feel the pain that we are feeling because we do not have electricity there.

“We are closing this national road because we want them to feel the pressure. We are demanding this electricity because we know that it is there. We want every South African to feel this pain we are feeling here,” he said.

Lack of funds

Mzimvubu Local Municipality spokesperson, Simthembile Khulu, however said that the villages were not going to receive electricity soon due to a lack of funds.

“We would like to place on record that in terms of the municipal IDP, the electrification of the area of ward 12 and ward 13 around Mhlotsheni is planned for the next two to three years,” he said.

“This is because of the lack of resources presently. We do sympathise and empathise with the community however, we would like to urge our community to remain patient and bear with us because we remain committed to deliver services to the communities.”

Khulu urged the protesting villagers to refrain from disrupting traffic on the N2 and to communicate their grievances directly with the local municipality.

The villagers have threatened to continue with their protest if their demands are not met by both the local municipality and Eskom.