Crackdown on power theft

2012-10-26 00:00

SHALLOW grooves chiselled into a main road, live wires running though storm water drains and washing lines being used as makeshift cables were some of the shocking practices uncovered in a raid on illegal connections in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The raid was part of the Msunduzi municipality’s crackdown on illegal electricity connections.

Yesterday they tackled the Northdale area and removed illegal connectors from electricity supply boxes and street light poles.

Staff from the electricity department were accompanied by the municipality’s security staff as they disconnected illegal connectors at the Nhlalakahle informal settlement, some parts of Skom-plaas, Bombay Road, Balhambra Way and Swapo.

Anthony Patrick, supervisor in the revenue section of the municipality, led the disconnections team. He said the illegal connections cause huge problems for paying customers.

“Our customers end up with no electricity as a result of these illegal connections,” said Patrick.

“For now we are disconnecting them from the mains sources and will return with police to remove the wires in the informal settlements,” said Patrick.

He said the communities who don’t have electricity should apply for power connections and those who do, should be vigilant when someone is stealing from them.

Municipal officials drove around removing cables, some of which consisted of washing line wires which had been used to make connections from the electricity boxes. At the Swapo settlement, grooves were cut into the R33 road to Greytown and live cables were run over the road by those who were stealing the power.

In other cases electricity connections were run next to water meters and pipes. Storm water drains also provided the means for live wires to cross underneath the road to the informal settlement.

As the officials took the wires away, abuse and threats were hurled at the electricians and security guards by residents of the informal settlements.

Some pleaded with them to leave their cable behind.

“You can disconnect us, but please leave our wire. We paid a lot of money for it,” said a voice from a shack in the Nhlalakahle informal settlement.

Residents in Swapo informal settlement admitted that they knew their illegal connections were wrong and asked that they be offered jobs as they were unemployed.

“They should have warned us first and told us how we must apply for electricity,” said Nomathemba Nkomo.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma, said they are working on plans to electrify informal settlements.

“We are intensifying our fight against the stealing of electricity.

“The Municipality loses millions of rands that could be used for infrastructure development which needs a lot of attention in our municipality. Having said that, Council has approved the electrification of informal settlements by installing pre-paid meters,” said Zuma.

He added that the process is still at a conceptual stage and stealing of electricity is criminal and can no longer be tolerated.

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