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Swellendam’s Protest Over Change in Free Electricity Policy Results in Arson

Published September 21, 2023
8 months ago

The quiet town of Swellendam was recently marred by a fiery protest. Residents, up in arms over changes to their free electricity allocation, participated in a communal march to the mayor’s office after ominous flames engulfed the municipal offices.



An unidentified arsonist ignited the public uproar sparked by the reduction in the indigent subsidy. One of those arrested during the protest, Monwabisi Mtywanga, requested any information leading to the arsonist’s capture.


The community's frustration stems from their reduced allotment of free electricity units. Prior to July 1, the municipality had regularly provided its impoverished citizens with 50 units of free electricity. The policy change, however, introduced a need for reapplication, which was perceived as an unanticipated burden by the beneficiaries.



Stanley Dlelewele, another local resident, expressed disappointment in Mayor Francois du Rand's communication surrounding the policy change. He reported that the Mayor's Facebook announcement that the newly implemented policy would remain unchanged incensed the community and sparked the said protest.


According to Mayor du Rand, a miscommunication caused the upheaval. He clarified that indigent residents need to apply for the subsidy, guaranteeing either a 50 or 20 units package. He further explained that a control office was established to aid residents in their subsidy applications.


The protesters handed over a memorandum of their grievances to the mayor and the ANC provincial spokesperson, Muhammad Khalid Sayed. Sayed agreed to deliver the memo to Thembi Nkadimeng, Minister of Co-operative Governance. This act signals a significant shift in the dynamics of Swellendam, encapsulating the community's demand for lower electricity tariffs, policy changes, and an enhanced public role in municipal decision-making.


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