Illegal electricity: ‘What else can we do?’

2017-01-25 06:01
Onwettige kragverbindings wat verspreid oor Communitystraat na die Walmer-township strek, word vanuit dié kragboks aan die oorkant van die pad herlei. Foto’s: WERNER HILLS

Onwettige kragverbindings wat verspreid oor Communitystraat na die Walmer-township strek, word vanuit dié kragboks aan die oorkant van die pad herlei. Foto’s: WERNER HILLS

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ABOUT 26 illegal power connections that are laid across Community Road to Walmer township, could perhaps be a thing of the past shortly.

Here multi-coloured power lines flow from a web of tangled connections in an electrical box and lie spread over a section of the busy street. The street is for many a shortcut to various companies and the airport.

Annette Lovemore, Mayoral Committee Member for infrastructure, engineering and electricity, last week said the municipality was aware of the problem and would do something about it within the next two weeks.

She confirmed that a budget of R3 million was requested to remove all illegal power connections and to provide legal power supply to Airport Valley at the township.

“We are in the process of getting the money signed off and we hope to start with the safe electrification within the next two weeks.”

Siphe Aplen, a resident of the township, has admitted that he was one of those who were connecting electricity illegally.

“We know the illegal connections are dangerous, but what else can we do if the municipality does not give us electricity?” asked Aplen.

“It is not ideal for us to steal power; it’s just the only way we can afford.”

Enoch Speelman, also a resident, is well aware of the shock death of Luniko Njikelana (1) in New Brighton recently. The boy died from an illegal power connection which electrified the fence at his aunt’s house. He touched the fence.

“I always get scared when I hear about people who died because of the connections, so I never touch the wires. I’m too afraid of shock,” Speelman said.

According to a municipal electrician, who wishes to remain anonymous , investigations indicate that residents in the township sell illegal connections at R50 each.

“The residents are poor. To pay R50 once for electricity is a win situation for them.

“The problem is that the power flows from 220 Volts which is very dangerous, because the illegal power connections have no power breaker,” he explained.

“The person who is shocked, can not just let go of the wire. The electric wire must first burn out before the power can cut off, because there is no power breaker. “

He said it is for this reason that many injuries and even deaths occur due to illegal connections. But he believes it is the stray animals that largely suffer under the illegal power connections.

“We often see cows, dogs and goats that were electrocuted here because they pick some-thing up in the grass to chew on and the next moment bite on a power line.”

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