On Friday, 14 February some residents of Amsterdam, following a meeting with the Executive Mayor of Mkhondo, Vusi Motha, which was held on Thursday, 13 February, protested about the poor service delivery that they are currently receiving.
The protest continued on Monday, 17 February. During the protests, tyres were burnt, preventing motorists from being able to enter into or exit Amsterdam. Pipes and rocks, amongst other items, were also used to block the roads. There were even reports of protestors throwing motorists with rocks who tried to get past them.
All of this violence was allegedly caused because the community is tired of being without electricity for long periods of time. A notice was sent out to the community, stating that ESKOM was not supplying the town with enough electricity and thus, they would have electricity for five hours, followed by five hours of “internal load shedding.”
According to the ANC Branch Executive Committee of Amsterdam, Ward 5, the problem is not that the community of Amsterdam owes ESKOM money, but rather a contractual one between ESKOM and the Mkhondo Local Municipality. The limit of Amsterdam’s power is 1.5MVA (Mega Volt Amp) and the community at large exceeds this limit.
ESKOM then implemented a Nominal Maximum Decrease (NMD) which led the MLM to only be able to cater for one section of Amsterdam at a time. This plan was further complicated by load shedding and thus, some parts of Amsterdam were left without electricity for up to nine hours at a time.
During a meeting held by the Mkhondo Local Municipality for the community of Amsterdam, to discuss the situation, offensive comments were apparently made by some officials, which led to further unhappiness of community members.
On Tuesday night, 18 February the protests continued and some shops were looted. Residents of Amsterdam also reported, on a WhatsApp group, that they heard gunfire throughout the night. Early on Wednesday morning, the SAPS maintained a heavy presence, to be ready for any action that the protestors might take during the day.
The situation seems far from resolved and further protests are a possibility.