Welder steals electric power

2010-05-27 00:00

TWO Northdale residents have been suffering with high electricity bills for years while their informal settlement neighbours have illegally connected up their power supply from their electricity box — with one running a welding business.

The Bombay Road residents, who did not want to be named for fear of being victimised, said they have been paying between R1 500 and R2 000 every month for electricity, but have recently discovered strange wires connected to their meter box, which is situated outside their yard.

From the box, whose cover has been removed, the wires disappear into a manhole and reappear at the cluster of mud houses of the Nhlalakahle informal settlement across Balhambra Road. The settlement does not have electricity, but a number of houses are seen with electric lights at night and TVs on. One of the alleged thieves is a welder.

“It is worse because one of the persons who is stealing our electricity has a business welding burglar guards,” said a resident.

The resident’s bills have apparently been climbing since she moved into the house in 2006.

“I have been frustrated by these bills because no one uses electricity during the day since I’m at work and the children are at school,” she said.

The resident said she was clearing overgrown vegetation outside her yard when she discovered the opened box with the illegal connections. The box has the numbers of her house and the next door house.

“I immediately called Eskom, who came and removed the wires,” said the resident.

However, a few days later the wires had been reconnected.

“This time I became so angry that I just decided to remove them myself and I kept the wires,” she said.

She said she went to report the matter to the police, but was told that the matter should be handled by Eskom.

Her son said on the night after Eskom officials removed the wires, two houses at the settlement were without lights and TVs were not playing.

“This shows that they are the ones who steal our electricity. They always play loud music during the day, but since the wires were removed there are no radios playing,” said the son.

Another resident, Patricia Govender (62), who is a pensioner, said she pays more than R2 000 for her electricity.

“Some years back I would only pay up to R500, but suddenly my electricity bill shot up. I have always wondered why, until my neighbour came to inform me about the illegal connection,” she said.

Residents of Nhlalakahle said they have been denied electricity despite having lived in the settlement for more than 20 years. They said they also do not have toilets and water.

Although the alleged thieves are known to The Witness they were not available to comment.

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