Mushiyane - The residents of Mushiyane, outside Giyani, have something to smile about.
President Jacob Zuma on Sunday officially switched-on an electrification project in Mushiyane, by cutting a ribbon in a mud house headed by Sidwell Hlungwane, 21.
"Now that we've got electricity, we believe that life will be better and we have hope for our future," said Sidwell.
He had dropped out of Grade 9 last year to be able to work to support his brothers.
President Zuma said giving electricity to the people of the remote village was an indication of government's commitment to make life better for people living in rural areas.
"We are saying that people do not need to be in the metropolitan areas to have access to electricity and other basic services.
"We have known for a long time as government that the biggest causalities of this lack of access to electricity are women, children, people with disabilities and pensioners," he said.
He said while growing up in Nkandla village in KwaZulu-Natal, he had seen that it was women who travel long distances to fetch wood and water with children on their backs.
For the first time, a total of 417 households at Mushiyane village have electricity and government spent almost R4 million to make the project possible.
"Upon completion of this project, over 1000 families will no longer be expected to travel long distances to fetch wood in order to cook, or compel their children to study under candle light," he said.
Speaking to BuaNews at the electricity switch-on ceremony, Lazarus Mthombeni, 21, said when the sun sets in the evenings, all activities come to a halt in the village.
"It was difficult for learners to do their homework using candles; it was also difficult to cook or just to walk down the streets after the sun sets," he said.
Pensioner Daniel Novela, 71, said: "Since the dawn of democracy, we thought we were forgotten by our government, but we were wrong. Thanks to the electrification of our village, we can now cook and charge our cell phones from our homes."
Previously, residents had to charge their cell phones at the nearby Kheyi village, situated about three kilometres from Mushiyane.
Another resident, Daniel Baloyi, 45, was excited that the television set he had bought three years ago would "no longer be a decoration."
"To me the electrification of our households means that I will now be able to watch what is happening across our country as well as around the world. I am grateful for this initiative," he said.