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Humans Right Stripped Disabled Man Shares His Covid 19 Ordeal

The multiple human rights violations suffered by the vulnerable people during this pandemic are known but what is less understood is the extent to which they are affected by undertone prejudices.

Zwelekhaya Magidiwana from Plettenberg Bay is one of many South Africans whose human rights have been infringed by the local government during this pandemic trapped economy.

According to the 43-year-old, neighbours used his house to illegal electricity connection when he was away to be with family after being attacked by a stroke in 2016.

“When I come back, I find my box damaged. I immediately went to the municipality to report the matter with the hope that my box will be fixed kindly ask to ask to pay half of the amount or instalments, but the municipality official refused.”

Instead of being helped, the municipality officials came to disconnect the box and left him with no electricity. He was told to pay R2800 in order to get it fixed. 

“I am struggling. I spend R350 a month on paraffin and 200 on candles. Fire outbreaks are common in informal settlements. That really scares me everyday.
I think that is one of many contributing factors for me being a victim of multiple strokes attacks.
I am always scared that one day I will fall asleep while the candle is on and it will burn my shack and die from fire. I also do not want to be a reason my neighbours to lose their shacks to fire.”
I am sick and I only earn R1800,  how do they expect me to pay a questionable electricity bill that is way above what I can afford?
Magidiwana’s Neighbour Nombulelo Phephetha lambasted municipal officials who denied him rights to dignity, health and access to state-supplied services like subsidized electricity.
According to Phephetha, upon noticing that, unlike other indigents beneficiaries, Magidiwana was not going to get from local government, community members now and help where they can.
‘Zweli is a nice person and his situation worries all of us here in this informal settlement. It is really painful to see him begging for money for basic things like paraffin and candles.
Someone with a chronic illness like him shouldn’t be exposing himself to potential Covid 19 infested situations but he has no other option but to hustle. 
His situation is really painful. So now and again we help we offer any form of assistance that we can. That include doing laundry for him or buying basic amenities like candles and cook for him.” said Phephetha
Among many other things, the National Energy Act 34 of 2008 prioritize the facilitation of energy to improve the quality of life of the people of South Africa.

On other hand, Section 73(1)(a) of the MSA states that municipal services must be provided in a manner that is conducive to the prudent, economic, efficient and effective use of available resources

The Electricity Basic Services Support Tariff (Free Basic Electricity) Policy of 2003, states that certain groups of people who meet specific criteria qualify for the allocation of free basic electricity, which is limited to a maximum of 60kWh per household, per month and anything over this limit will be charged to the customer.

According to Phephetha, municipal officials have been using Covid 19 challenges as an excuse to transgress all indigent laws to strip Magidiwana human rights.

Councillor Xola Mathyile told JHR that he was not aware of a disabled member of his community who lives in the dark due to not have an electricity box. The councillor promised to look into it and see how he can assist, instead failed to visit the men.

By Siphokazi Mnyobe

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