Jansenville residents protest as salary dispute forces electricity office to close doors


Protests have reportedly flared-up in the troubled Karroo town of Jansenville, located between Port Elizabeth and Graaff-Reinet, over an apparent electricity dispute.

According to reports, angry residents have blocked off the main R75 route leading through the town with burning tyres on the Port Elizabeth side, demanding that workers affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) reopen their offices so that residents could pay for electricity.

In a statement sent to RNews, a former Ikwezi councillor, Johnny Lewis, said that ongoing pay disputes between the union and the beleaguered Ikwezi Local Municipality had resulted in the closing of offices since Monday, adding that efforts to raise the matter with Eastern Cape Local Government and Tradition Affairs MEC, Fikile Xasa, had been in vain.

“I had a conversation with the MEC regarding this problem on Tuesday, and his response was 'the mayor and his council must resolve the problems and engage with the community about the problems they are facing',” Lewis said.

He stated that numerous calls to troubled Mayor Sizwe Mngwevu had gone unanswered and that the offices have remained closed.

“Provincial Government has a legal obligation to help and assist municipalities like Ikwezi, but it seems they are trying to shift the legal obligations on the shoulders of the Sarah Baartman District Municipality which is unacceptable”.

The latest incident to hit Ikwezi, which consists of Jansenville, Kilpplaat and Waterford, comes after Eskom threatened to cut electricity days before Christmas last year due to outstanding debt, which was eventually settled following an intervention by Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle.

Similar protest actions over salaries began flaring up in May last year, with a second in June and one in January this year resulting in the party announcing the laying of charges against the acting municipal manager, due to wide-scale reports of fraud and corruption.