4 people found guilty of over 16 000 counts of electricity theft - Eskom

2016-12-17 14:46
Pylons carry high-voltage electricity cables from the Grootvlei power station, operated by Eskom.

Pylons carry high-voltage electricity cables from the Grootvlei power station, operated by Eskom.

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Durban – Four people who were initially charged with 36 000 charges collectively of electricity theft have been found guilty of more than 16 000 of them, Eskom said in a statement on Saturday.

The power giant said the four accused included a mother and son, aged 56 and 23.

The four, who collectively faced over 36 000 charges related to electricity theft, were found guilty on 16 451 counts in the Palm Ridge Regional Court on Monday.

Sentencing has been scheduled for February 3, 2017, Eskom said.

The two main suspects, Mafuthi Chiliza and her son Nqobile Chiliza, from De Deur, south of Gauteng, were arrested in December 2012 when they were found in possession of a stolen Credit Dispensing Unit (CDU) – a machine belonging to Eskom that prints out prepaid electricity vouchers.

Ringleader

Authorities also recovered a hard drive belonging to another stolen CDU machine, numerous customer lists, including electricity meter numbers, 996 illegal prepaid electricity vouchers of varying value as well as other equipment used for printing prepaid electricity vouchers.

Two other suspects who were also found in possession of customer lists, meter numbers and illegal prepaid vouchers, were linked to Chiliza, whom the court established was the ringleader of a syndicate that sold illegal prepaid electricity vouchers, through records found on their mobile phones.

Eskom said telephone records also linked Chiliza to Andile Mgadi, who was arrested for the illegal possession of a CDU machine but was murdered during the trial.

Richard De Nobrega, senior adviser for Eskom Security Investigations, who also testified at the trial, said the ruling was a great victory for the power utility.

"Eskom loses billions each year to electricity theft," said De Nobrega during his testimony.

"But Eskom or the state is not the only victim of this crime. To recover the money that is lost by the power utility due to electricity theft, including illegal connections, meter tampering and bypassing and the selling of illegal prepaid vouchers, Eskom is forced to increase the price of electricity, which ultimately affects legal electricity users in the form of increased tariffs."

The state has also applied for an investigation into how the four accused benefitted from their illegal activity, which could lead to the seizure of assets including real estate and vehicles.

Read more on:    eskom  |  johannesburg  |  electricity  |  fraud

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