After being in the dark for more than 20 years, Klipheuwel residents can now officially do away with their candles and paraffin lights and simply flip the switch to turn on their lights.
The City of Cape Town and Eskom officially switched on electricity in the Klipheuwel informal settlement on Friday August 11.
Mayor Patricia de Lille said most of the residents had been living on the privately owned land since the late 1990s, but the City had been unable to install electricity there.
“In 2014, the previous owner of the land started negotiations to sell the land to the City, and this battle went for some time. “
“I met with the then land owner in February 2015 and until October 2015 extensive negotiations and deliberations continued between City and the previous land owner about the provision of electricity and purchase of land,” she said.
The City eventually bought the land in February last year for R943 500 and put plans into motion, along with Eskom, to have the area electrified. Klipheuwel community leader Nkupane Ntswane moved to the area from the Eastern Cape in 1999. He used candles and a rechargeable light that he would charge at a friend’s house in the formal side of Klipheuwel.
Mr Ntswane said the day was a joyous one for the community, which had been waiting many years for electricity. He thanked the mayor for keeping the promise she had made to the community in 2016.“When the mayor came last year to tell us of their plans, we didn’t believe it and thought nothing would come from it,” he said. In a statement, Ms De Lille said: “I am pleased that the Klipheuwel community can finally enjoy this service. The City is proud to be part of this project. It has been a long road and together with the community, we persevered.”
Eskom provincial head Alwie Lester said: “Eskom continues to contribute towards the socio-economic developmental goals of the country by intensifying its electrification delivery programme.” Mr Ntswane said the children of the community would no longer have to do their homework or study by candlelight and residents would have a better chance of starting up their own small businesses, such as selling food. “We are truly grateful. The smiles on the faces of the residents is something I won’t forget,” he said. Ward 105 councillor Ruan Beneke said most people only realised how much they relied on electricity when they didn’t have it. “This community have raised their children in such circumstances for many years. I am sure the true benefit of this project will only become clear in years to come, as these children will be exposed to much more possibilities and small businesses can now also start developing,” he said. Mr Beneke said there was still a lot to do to improve Klipheuwel’s living standards, but it helped that trust had been built. The City has set aside R90 million for electrification projects in informal settlements, new housing projects, and in backyarder dwellings across the city for this financial year.