Close to 30 households at Mqwangqweni village in Ngqeleni in the Eastern Cape are still in the dark despite hundreds of fellow villagers having electricity.

Since the electrification project in 2002, the households have been hoping they will also be connected, but to date, they are still not. They allege they were told they are not on the list of households meant for electrification.

Some villagers live with meter boxes that are of no use. For close to two decades, they feel neglected and have nowhere to go.

“We do not have electricity here. I struggle to cook. When it rains I have to take my firewood inside the house. I am struggling. We are pleading for help in this village. It’s been 19 years now since we’ve been complaining about electricity but it’s still not provided,” says a villager.

“Our ward councillor is nowhere to be found. He keeps promising that soon we will get electricity but it’s been years now. Now we’ve been told that we will get electricity in April of 2022. Since the electrification of this village in 2002, we have been struggling. We have to ask people with refrigerators to keep our meat because we do not have fridges. We want to buy fridges but we cannot because we not have electricity,” adds another villager.

Seventy-three-year-old Mdedeleni Maqhilika is one of the people who received meter boxes back in 2002 but is yet to be connected. He is now making a desperate plea to the President to intervene.

“We are pleading to President Ramaphosa to help us. We need electricity. I just came back from the forest to get firewood. When it rains we are forced to drink cold sweetwater because we have nothing to cook with. We are even dark in complexion because we bathe with cold water. My meter box was installed in 2002 but still no electricity. We are now close to 20 years.”

As is usually the case, local authorities are in the know about the problem. Phila Godongwana the Human Settlements and Special Planning manager at Nyandeni Municipality says they are looking into it.

“We are aware of this challenge. As such on the 4th of this month, the officials from Nyandeni Municipality together with the Eskom officials were there to finalise the layout plan and design for Mqwangweni electrification. The 30 households that are not electrified are part of the plan and other areas in Mqwangqweni number 1, Mqwangqweni number 2, and Mqwangqweni number 3. Their layout plan was approved by Eskom for the 2022 financial year. So the project will start next year in March.”

Until the fulfillment of that promise, the affected residents will have to hold on to the hope that they will be taken out of the dark, as the area is already called Emnyameni, which means ‘In the dark’.