BOPHELONG. – Joko Tea squatter camp is not what it used to be. Currently, the camp is festooned with legal or illegal electrical connections, including many DSTV dishes. The connections run under the ground and ‘beneficiaries’ make money out of illegally supplying electricity to others.
An Eskom employee anonymously told Sedibeng Ster that Eskom was well aware that this was going on and at some stage the company would have to confront shack owners. The underground cables are probably a safety measure to prevent the electrocution of children playing in often rainswept streets. The underground cables also help conceal where the electricity is coming from.
Shacks with electricity are easily distinguished from shacks without at night when lights are on.The difference between candlelight and electrical light is immediately apparent. Shacks with electricity are also easily distinguishable from shacks without by the presence of DSTV dishes on roofs.
Very few Joko tea squatters own a generator or any electrical alternative that can run DSTV. Some community members on the streets openly admitted they had illegally accessed electricity.
“This is survival of the fittest, a dog-eat-dog situation. We have been too loyal to the government and our loyalty bears no fruit.
“We have on several occasions approached both the Emfuleni Municipality and Eskom to no avail. Daniel Mofokeng says he has spent his entire life here: “Emfuleni officials once paid a surprise visit to the squatters. They cut out electrical networks illegally set on the ground, threatening arrests. “If indeed we are living here illegally,” say community members, “they must chase us away at the election voting stations.”
His sentiment was echoed by Martha Mbheko, “We are the voting-cows. As long as we are here, we will continue with illegal connections. To prove that we are residents, we always get political parties visiting us to check whether we have registered for voting. That means we are here legally.”