Municipality ashamed about electrocution of eight-year-old boy, says Bobani

Nelson Mandela Bay infrastructure and engineering head Mongameli Bobani visits the family of Chumani Mdayi, 8, who was electrocuted by an illegal connection in the Winnie informal settlement
PAYING RESPECTS: Nelson Mandela Bay infrastructure and engineering head Mongameli Bobani visits the family of Chumani Mdayi, 8, who was electrocuted by an illegal connection in the Winnie informal settlement
Image: WERNER HILLS

Municipal officials were hanging their heads in shame after the tragic death of an eight-year-old who was electrocuted by an illegal connection, Nelson Mandela Bay infrastructure and engineering head Mongameli Bobani said.

Bobani visited the family of little Chumani Mdayi on Wednesday to pass on condolences to the family and offer an apology.

“We have to apologise for what the thugs have done to this family.

“If those thugs who have since disappeared had not stolen the electricity that child would still be alive.

“But because the electricity is coming from the municipality we have to take some responsibility and apologise for this tragedy,” Bobani said.

He also announced that the municipality would immediately intervene by starting an electrification project in  the Kingston informal settlement near Despatch where Chumani lived.

He died at the Winnie informal settlement just a stone’s throw from Kingston.

“The ward councillor [Simphiwe Tyukana] has indicated that there are programmes for electricity that were supposed to take [place] here and we are confirming that from today that programme will continue,” Bobani said.

“Fortunately we were here just three weeks ago with the councillor, and my department is now visiting 60 wards to check service delivery challenges.

One the challenges that came up with this ward was the issue of electrification of the shacks and illegal connections.”

He said the municipality was aware the duty was on the municipality to ensure people had electricity.

“We do not want to see any other tragic incident similar to this, because this incident has also devastated us as the municipality.”

Bobani said the process of taking down the izinyoka  [illegal connections], which would be replaced by new proper wiring, would commence immediately as the city had already budgeted for the electrification of shacks throughout the metro.

Municipal spokesperson Mamela Ndamase said R37m had been budgeted for electrification projects.

Bobani said: “My department is changing everything in the plan and will be prioritising this electrification project.

“We will take live wires out and when we do that we know it won’t be nice but we have a plan to replace all those with proper wiring and transformers — we have the budget for that.”

He said not only did the theft of electricity rob the city of people’s lives but it cost millions of rand yearly despite measures put in place to curb the illegal connections.

It was not only shack dwellers who stole electricity but also some residents in proper housing as well as big corporations.

“The ward councillor here has told us that he has been trying to get the municipality to do something about the illegal wiring and said he was worried that the municipality was only reacting because a child died.

“We want to make it clear that the project was always in the pipeline, but now we will fast-track that project.”

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