Through Athandile Siyo February 10, 2021

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Cape Town – The family of the late Bongeka Mhlakaza, 42, who was electrocuted, appeal to the public to help with the cost of transport to the Eastern Cape, where she is to be buried this weekend.

The mother of five, aged 25, 22, 17, 7 and 3, lived in the overcrowded informal settlement called Siyahlala in Dunoon.

She died Thursday while trying to reconnect her illegal power cable because she had to wash her children before leaving for work in the morning.

Her mother, Bukiwe Tonga, said her family had lived in Siyahlala since 1998 and Mhlakaza was the sole breadwinner.

“I am retired but did not receive it (retiring allowance) last month,” she said.

Tonga, who lives in a one-room cabin, said Mhlakaza had left her to care for five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren who did not have birth certificates.

“I have a great-grandchild who is 10 years old and has never been to school.

“I collect and sell scrap metal for a living and I can’t even afford to bury my daughter. My sister said she would ask the bank for a loan to cover the funeral, but I don’t even know how we’re going to get to the Eastern Cape.

“Why didn’t God take me? I have no way to feed these children. We haven’t had anything to eat yet. I really don’t know what I did to deserve such pain, ”she said.

Community activist Meisie Makuwa said, “It is painful and we are tired of still having to bury people who are dying from electrocution, especially after so many years of mediating with the city.

“We had over 3,000 cabins here, but now it’s probably over 6,000, with no basic services.

“Mhlakaza is the fourth person to die from electrocution since December. Just last week, a five-year-old child died in the same circumstances.

“All our people need are basic services, adequate electricity, toilets and water. They said the land belongs to Transnet, but what about the people who live like this here and now? ” she asked.

Malusi Booi, Mayco member for human settlements, said: “This is not city-owned land. This is a long-standing problem in which national and provincial governments are involved.

It is also the subject of legal proceedings which are in progress.

“The continued illegal occupation of the rest of the railway reserve derails all plans by the City and Transnet to find a solution in terms of the ongoing legal process.

“The number of occupants keeps increasing, which means we are working with a moving target.”

Transnet said it would respond in due course.

Anyone who can help Mhlakaza’s family can contact Meisie Makuwa on 073 624 3786.

Cape Town Hours

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