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Cheers to Thembalethu Informal Settlement Dwellers as George Municipality switches on electricity

In the photograph from left are: Councillor Khayalethu Lose, Alderman Leon van Wyk (Executive Mayor of George), Zukile Motseki (Resident), Councillor Nosicelo Mbethe (Portfolio Councillor for Electrotechnical Services), Councillor Thembinkosi Lento (Ward 9 Councillor) and Daniel Greeff (Deputy Director Electro for Planning & Design in the Electrotechnical Services Directorate).

A ray of light shone brightly on the Thembalethu Informal settlements known as ‘Telkom’, on Wednesday, 13 September 2023. It was a day of celebration as the first 100 informal settlement dwellers finally had access to electricity. To mark this momentous occasion, the Executive Mayor of George, Alderman Leon van Wyk, officially switched on the electricity, in an event that also signifies the end of illegal connections.

“We are happy to be switching on electricity to informal settlements in this area today,” said Mayor van Wyk. “It’s a whole programme that we are running with this switch-on being the first 100 informal settlements units, and probably another 400 be switched in in the next few weeks. The initiative aims to improve safety by reducing the risk of electrocution from loose wires hanging around. At the same time, it brings electricity to the informal shack dwellers who can now buy it through a prepaid meter system.”

Mayor van Wyk says this switch-on is a significant step towards making life a little easier for our community members living in informal settlements. “We look forward to the positive impact it will have on their daily lives,” he added.

Mayor van Wyk’s entourage consisted of the Portfolio Councillor for Electrotechnical Services Nosicelo Mbethe, Ward 9 Councillor Thembinkosi Lento, Councillor Khayalethu Lose who is a resident in the area, officials from the Electrotechnical Services and the contractors. One of the residents, Zukile Motseki who opened his shack for the switch on expressed his joy for finally getting electricity from the Municipality. “This is a special day for us, I’m happy that we are able to have access to electricity and also stop Illegal connections, I’m very much grateful,” he said.

The immense growth in informal settlements has caused damage to the overall electrical infrastructure due to ongoing illegal connections, which in some instances resulted in the loss of lives. The Electrotechnical Department has drafted minimum criteria that will be adhered to for the electrification of informal areas in the future to formalize the provision of electrical services to informal settlements.

Since May 2014, up to April 2023, approximately 1600 informal structures have been added to the network at a cost of around R17 million. The cost per structure for electrification is between R10 000 – R13 000, which includes a prepaid meter. Following Council approval, the Electrotechnical Directorate embarked on the electrification construction work. The construction started at the Telkom informal area and is spreading through the Sityebi-Sityebi Informal area and thereafter Edameni.

Please watch the official switch-on of informal settlements:

In the photograph from left in the front row are: Roland Appels (Sub-Contractor from MTDJ Projects), Councillor Khayalethu Lose, Cllr Nosicelo Mbethe (Portfolio Councillor for Electrotechnical Services in the George Municipality), Cllr Thembinkosi Lento (Ward 9 Councillor), Alderman Leon van Wyk (Executive Mayor of George), Deon Esterhuysen (Manager: Projects Planning and Design), and Joubert Theart (Zutari – Civil Consulting Engineers).
Back row: Kevin Grunewald (BDE – Electrical Consulting Engineers), Jandre van Zyl (VE Electrical Contractors) and Daniel Greeff (Deputy Director Electro for Planning & Design in the Electrotechnical Services Directorate).