South Africa, Pretoria – Illegal electricity connections were made by some of the residents, which resulted in earlier orders made by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria that there had to be attended to as they posed a danger to those living there.
Attempts at restoring these, even with a court order, were thwarted. This led to yet another court order for contempt of court against the handful of trouble makers, who turned violent when the officials tried to fix the connections.
Yeast City, a non-profit social housing company in the City, which runs Thembelihle Village, turned to court to have some of the troublemakers jailed for contempt of court and have the main culprits evicted.
Thembelihle Village is home to 2500 residents, including 800 children. The City is the owner of the property on Struben Street.
Yeast told the court that the village was being hijacked by some rogue elements who had been conducting a relentless campaign of violence, intimidation, and extortion over a period of three years.
A violent clash with the SAPS erupted last month. Pictures presented to the court confirmed the allegations that the village was turned into a “war zone”, with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets having to be employed.
It was alleged that the trigger was the termination of electricity supply to non-paying residents who by then owed Voltano, which manages the electricity supply, more than R1 million.
Some residents then unlawfully and largely in an unsafe manner, reconnected the electricity supply. The court was told that the units had been reconnected without circuit breakers, placing the occupants at risk.
The court earlier interdicted the culprits from intimidating the officials, who in terms of another court order, tried to fix these illegal connections.
But all hell broke loose last month when the officials tried to repair the connections. It is claimed that one of the residents, said to be the main culprit, “with the help of a taxi mob”, kidnapped two employees of Voltano.
Pictures were also handed to the court showing a vehicle belonging to Voltano being towed away from the village after its tyres had been slashed, allegedly by the main culprit and his supporters.
Judge Norman Davis, who heard the urgent application for contempt of court, said the allegations of destruction of property, barricading of entrances, and intimation of employees of Yeast, were corroborated by the pictures and affidavits from cleaners and eyewitnesses.
The judge said it was clear that the culprits knew about the earlier court orders that they may not intimidate officials who were repairing the dangerous illegal connections, yet they went ahead and acted in a violent manner.
He also ordered that if they continued with this conduct, they may face a 60-day jail sentence. The judge, meanwhile, postponed the issue of eviction to an undisclosed later date.