Protests leave Rietfontein residents stranded again

Residents who travel on the Van der Hoff road were again stranded last week during a day-long protest and the DA has now made an urgent request to the Madibeng municipality to address the various issues causing the protests and a solution for residents who are stuck when the road is closed.

The scene after the protest last week.

Unhappy residents of Refentse barricaded the Van der Hoff road on Wednesday in protest of a prolonged electricity outage due to illegal connections and the municipality’s failure to address the problems. This was the second protest in a short period. According to Madibeng councillor Claudie Greenwood-Selby, protests on this road pose significant challenges for the rest of the community, particularly the smallholdings, which are in desperate need of the road. An alternative route was closed by Xanadu Estate earlier this year following a High Court case. “The municipality signed off on a High Court order for Xanadu to close the only viable alternative gravel road. Due to residents not having access to a viable road, this continues to pose a threat to smallholding residents in case of an emergency,” she said.

“DA Councillors have raised this issue with the municipality on several occasions, including in a report to the Executive Mayor, Cllr Douglas Maimane, and have yet to receive a response.

She said the DA will now engage with the acting municipal manager, Motlalekgomo Mmope, to enquire where the municipality will get the funds to upgrade infrastructure to provide more electricity for communities.

“Should the decision to increase Refentse’s capacity be made, it has become abundantly clear that the municipality only provides short-term solutions to long-term problems. The municipality cannot subsidise the costs of illegal electricity connections. Illegal electricity connections are a crime that must be prosecuted.”

She said the DA will insist on a report for the next council meeting for a plan of action to address the protests and the necessary steps to be taken against illegal electricity connections, as well as to provide an alternative road to the community in the event of protests.

“We will continue to put pressure on the municipality to start enforcing the rule of law in order to address these crimes in the community.”