Women in Pumula North say they are at risk of physical abuse as they forced to traverse the bush in search of firewood after a transformer in their area blew up over two months leaving them without electricity.
About 80 residential houses, an orphanage and a secondary school were the most affected after the transformer blew up at the beginning of January.
When CITE visited the area on Wednesday, the transformer was yet to be replaced.
Residents said women in the suburb are now at the mercy of rapists who are targeting them when they go in search for firewood in the nearby bush.
“This fault has taken too long without being attended to. One day I was almost raped in the bush as I was looking for firewood,” narrated a resident Tama Ncube.
“On my way back I met this young man and he jumped in front of me and he threatened to rape me. Luckily, I was able to escape although I fell and injured my leg.”
Ncube added that the cost of firewood is beyond their reach as they buy a bundle for ZWL$10.
Sthabile Ndlovu, another resident, said they are now forced to use cow dung for cooking.
“It is very difficult in the bush out there, we are being chased by rangers too, at some point they chased us and I did not run, I just stood there and asked them to follow me home and see what I use for cooking. We have resorted to using cow dung,” said Ndlovu.
Meanwhile, ward 17 councillor Sikhululekile Moyo encouraged the women to go in groups when they go looking for firewood.
“I have alerted the police about the incidents I have heard from residents, people get scared to report rape issues but I am encouraging residents to be in groups when going to the bush, due to our economic situation, criminals are now all over the area and they target people even in the bush to take away their valuables,” said Cllr Moyo.
She said she has been putting pressure on Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZETDC) to attend to the transformer.
“Ever since the day the transformer blew up we have been trying to engage ZESA but there hasn’t been any progress, they had promised to fix but it is now the third month without any action.
“Firewood is very expensive in this economic situation residents cannot afford to buy firewood every day,” she said.
Councilor Moyo added that learners at the local secondary school are also affected.
“Behind these affected houses there is also a school and an orphanage, the new curriculum expects learners to do computers. I visited the school sometime last week and teachers told me they have since stopped teaching computers following the transformer fault. There are now planning to invest in solar energy, this will be a burden coming to the parents again,” said Cllr Moyo.