Eskom recovering from syndicate attack

2015-05-05 15:47
(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

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Polokwane - Eskom in Limpopo has said its revenue has increased since the arrest of members of a prepaid electricity syndicate, who were allegedly enriching themselves with old vending machines.

The company said it has been losing at least R400m per year as results of a Credit Dispensing Unit machine stolen by the syndicate six years ago.

Eskom’s provincial spokesperson, Dikgabane Rampedi, told News24 on the sidelines of Wellington Marumo's trial at Mankweng Magistrate’s court on Tuesday: “We have managed to reduce the impact since Marumo was arrested and our sale has increased over R37m a month,” he said.

The court heard that Marumo used phased out machines when selling electricity voucher to customers in Mankweng area.

Credit Dispending Unit machines were phased out in 2009 after Eskom suffered heavy losses from the illegal sale of electricity as the system was vulnerable for exploitation.

However, investigations by police and the Eskom Fraud Unit discovered that nearly 580 vouchers were sold between 2009 and November 2012.

The court heard that the syndicate made a combined illegal profit of R264 600, when selling units at lower rate to Eskom's standard rates.

Eskom’s Fraud Examiner, Louie Rossow, earlier in the trial told court that the attack on the system was causing the company serious losses.

Marumo pleaded not guilty to 580 charges, despite overwhelming evidence against him.

Recruiting customers

According to police investigations, code discovered on the receipts were fromthree machines that were stolen when Eskom recalled and destroyed CDU machines.

The court heard that a ring leader recruited customers by promising them more units at discounted rates.

In one instance, a customer was able to secure 400 units for R200, something the power utility said was unregulated and unstandardised.

Rampedi appealed to the community not to support or buy discounted electricity, saying: "There is not a discount for electricity, the price of electricity is regulated. Don't buy or support discount electricity from dealers."

Marumo is said to have been the leader of a syndicate operating in Mankweng and surrounding areas.

He was released on R100 000 bail in March last year.

The court was also told that Eskom was unable to stop the machines from operating because the vending machines, unlike new technology, operate offline.

Elainne Adams, Eskom's information system manager, told the court that Eskom could not stop the machines from operating.

“It is not possible to stop that machine, it is not linked. The machine will stop issuing vouchers in 2024 if is not retrieved,” she said

The trial was adjourned until July 8, for the State to allow the police fraud analyst to unpack how money was transferred between ring leaders.

Read more on:    eskom  |  polokwane  |  fraud  |  crime

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