11 December 2013, Johannesburg – On the evening of 2 December 2013, Groundup staff visited Lansdowne Road in Khayelitsha to assess the state of street lights in the area. We counted 29 lights that were not functional. Overall, it appears that the state of street lights has improved since our last report on the issue in August 2013.
Phumeza Mlungwana, the Chairperson of the Social Justice Coalition, said that “the area now looks different, particularly along Lansdowne Road between Mew Way and Spine Road”.
Mlungwana said that she lives close to Lansdowne Road and uses it frequently when commuting. She said that she “feels safer as a result of better lighting”, but would need to see data on the impact of better lighting on safety in the area.
Ward Councillor Monde Nqulwana of ward 91 confirmed that lights along Lansdowne Road between Mew Way and Bonga Drive have been fixed and new ones installed.
Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg, Mayco Member for Utility Services, said that all the lighting networks in Khayelitsha were restored between January and April this year. A number of new light installations have also been made.
In 2012, GroundUp ran several reports on the lack of working streetlights in Khayelitsha. In January 2013, the City repaired most of them. In August this year, Groundup counted 27 lights that were not working. We counted about 38 lights that were not burning on our latest inspection, but at least nine of these lights are newly installed along Lansdowne between Mew Way and Spine Road. There were a further 11 lights along Lansdowne Road between Mew Way and Tutu Avenue that appear to be new installations, however the City did not confirm this.
The City recently conducted an audit of street lights in Khayelitsha, which found that about 56 lights in the vicinity of Mew Way were not working. Councillor Sonnenberg noted that vandalism and illegal connections contribute significantly to faulty street lights.
He said that city had to pay R2.53m between January and June 2013 to repair lights damaged by vandalism and illegal connections in the Khayelitsha/Philippi/Crossroads area. He did not provide comparative data based on overuse and maintenance. Sonneberg also did not provide data on the number of faults reported in Khayelitsha since January 2013.