Illegal power ‘tariffs’

2013-06-17 00:00

MSUNDUZI residents have been bearing the brunt of illegal electricity connections through frequent power cuts, but to add insult to injury, it has emerged that syndicates are making thousands of rands a month charging people for their stolen power.

Msunduzi electricity contractor Anthony Patrick said they had learned from informants that the syndicates operated in all the city’s informal settlements.

Members of the syndicate illegally provide informal residents with electricity, and charge them R50 a week for the “service”.

The syndicates are believed to be stealing cables from the likes of Telkom to make the connections from sub-stations. The live cables are then run through overgrown fields and into the informal settlements.

In 2012, it was reported that the Msunduzi Municipality lost R90 million due to illegal connections.

Patrick said he believed the municipality could not carry the financial strain of cables being removed from informal settlements on a monthly basis.

“We appeal for people in informal settlements to be patient, as there are plans in place to provide them with electricity,” he said.

Patrick said the load on the Echo and Bulwer roads sub-station had increased drastically with the onset of winter and resultant drop in temperatures to single digits most evenings. It is suspected that illegal connections to the Jika Joe informal settlement and other nearby areas was responsible.

“The sub-station at Echo Road feeds electricity to the Willowton industrial area and various parts of the city. If the sub-station trips, large parts of the city and our industries could be affected,” he said.

Patrick was speaking after illegal cables worth thousands of rands were conficated at Manor Flats, near Echo Road, on Friday. The cables ran through an open field near the flats to the informal settlement.

Flat residents, however, predicted the illegal connections would be back in operation by today. “I can bet you that by Monday [today] these Telkom cables will be reinstalled,” said one, who would not be named.

He said the problem was that the municipality had stopped cutting the grass at a sports field near the flats, providing an open field to hide the cables connecting the informal settlement to the grid.

“Our children are constantly under threat of being electrocuted. There are live uncovered wires. A disaster is just waiting to happen,” the man said.

He said power surges from the illegal connections had also destroyed their appliances.

“We would like to know when the municipality will provide a solution on this matter, because we are tired of this,” he said angrily.

Attempts to get comment from the Msunduzi Municipality were unsuccessful.

• Msunduzi security official Emmanuel Maphumulo (29) was charged with murder and attempted murder after a recent shooting at Nhlakahle informal settlement. He allegedly fired shots at people during an operation to remove illegal connections.

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