South Africa


Teenager becomes latest electrocution victim of Gqeberha river 

Teenager becomes latest electrocution victim of Gqeberha river 
This is the spot along the Chatty River where 17-year-old Erris Jonkers was electrocuted near his home in Gqeberha on Saturday. This was the second death by electrocution along this river this month. (Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani)

Illegal connections spread across the Chatty River to the Govan Mbeki township have electrocuted Kliprand informal settlement residents.

About 200 Kliprand residents blocked Old Uitenhage Road in Gqeberha with burning tyres, rubbish and rocks on Monday, demanding their shack electrification project be completed.

This follows the tragic death of 17-year-old Erris Jonkers who was electrocuted while checking the live wire connections that spread over the Chatty River near his home in Kliprand informal settlement on Saturday. Residents say the river has a few live wires from illegal connections from the Govan Mbeki township.

Erris’s aunt Martha Tiervlei told GroundUp that his mother had sent him to check why their power was off on Saturday. “He put on his fisherman attire, gumboots and also took his pliers.”

Erris Jonkers who died by electrocution

Erris Jonkers, 17, died after being electrocuted while checking the live wire connections that spread over the Chatty River on Saturday. (Photo: Supplied)

She said they were aghast when community members called them to the small river on Sunday morning. “He was still in the river with a live wire, still burning, next to him,” she said.

When we spoke to his grandmother, Sofie Jonkers, she cried uncontrollably as she spoke about her grandson. “I’m heartbroken. I still can’t believe my lovely grandson is dead. He spent the entire week at my house in Missionvale cleaning my yard.

“If this electrification project had been completed, my grandson would still be alive.”

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

Erris is the second person to be electrocuted in the river this month. About 500 metres away the body of an unknown man was discovered by two boys playing soccer in an open field. Residents say that two months prior, Leonick May, 7, survived an electric shock at the same spot where Erris died.

On Monday, residents, mostly women and children, protested, hoping to raise the alarm about the dangerous conditions. They want the government to build a pedestrian bridge for people to cross the river safely. People say they frequently have to cross the river to get to the clinic, shops and school.

Geraldine May with her seven-year-old granddaughter, Leonick

Geraldine May with her seven-year-old granddaughter, Leonick, who was electrocuted while crossing the Chatty River where illegal connections spread over the water. (Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani)

According to residents, a project to install electricity in about 380 households has been delayed. On 22 June, the community staged a protest saying the project had been delayed for eight months.

Geraldine May said it pains her to see her granddaughter, Leonick, still suffering from the wounds she got when she was electrocuted while crossing the river. May said Leonick has had to stay out of school as she is still getting treatment and is in a lot of pain.

Charlene Jonas community leader said Erris’s death was a sad reminder that their previous pleas had fallen on deaf ears. “This municipality does not care about people’s lives. The contractor works about two weeks per month.

“Erris was this community’s handyman. His death is a big loss for this community. We want this municipality to take full responsibility for all these tragic incidents,” she said.

Ward 33 Councillor Mzwandile Sidina said that the electrification project could be completed by September. “We had a few delays with the installation of electric boxes. We were short of material to connect to the substation in the area. But the contractor is busy on site. By next month electricity will be switched on.”

Sidina said the office of the mayor is aware of the community’s request for a pedestrian bridge and has promised to take this matter up with the roads and transport department. DM

Kliprand residents protest in relation to the electrocution

About 200 Kliprand residents blocked Old Uitenhage Road with burning tyres, rubbish and rocks, demanding their shack electrification project be completed. (Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani)

First published by GroundUp.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options