When the rural village of Tshilapfene outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo is cast into darkness, its residents become vulnerable to criminals who can prowl the streets without fear of being caught.
But that is all going to change, thanks to local businesswoman Sylvia Siphugu Ravhutulu.
On Friday she unveiled 42 new solar-powered street lights.
The project is the first of its kind in the province. It is the brainchild of Ravhutulu and her Intal Power Trading Company. The company partnered with the University of Venda and the Thulamela Local Municipality to get the initiative off the ground.
Traditional leader Vhamusanda Vhoshandukani Tshivhase could not hide his excitement as the lights were handed over to his community on Friday.
“Since the implementation of load shedding, the community has suffered in terms of crime. There have been break-ins at houses and when we started patrolling it subsided,” he told Scrolla.Africa.
“Now another crime – that of cable theft – is in fashion. Most of the households have been badly affected with cables stolen when the electricity is off.
“We are very excited as those thugs will now be exposed – even during load shedding.”
“We are very delighted to have been chosen among the many villages in the district. Our village has changed and it is now like any township in the country,” he said.
Ravhutulu said the project came as a result of the outcry about out-of-control crime rates in Thohoyandou.
“These crimes were mostly directed at women and children who found themselves exposed to danger every time load shedding was implemented. I felt I had to do something to help the less fortunate in rural villages.”
She said that the solar lights will provide a safe environment especially for women and children faced with the scourge of gender-based violence.
“We cannot be in darkness forever. There should be light mostly in the rural parts of the country,” she said.