Electricity war in Howick

2013-08-08 00:00

THE war against electricity theft has spread from Msunduzi to uMngeni Municipality.

From next week, municipal officials in Howick will visit every household supplied with electricity by the municipality to ensure that they are legally connected.

The Stop Electricity Theft Campaign will begin this week with a briefing to ward councillors and committees. They, in turn, will hold community meetings. uMngeni spokesperson Thando Mgaga said the aim was to encourage residents to co-operate with the municipality.

Mgaga said households will be audited by Eskom-compliant electricians, accompanied by security personnel. From this exercise, they are hoping to get more accurate information on the extent of electricity theft in the municipality.

“Residents are advised that municipal officials and its authorised service provider may not be prevented from accessing properties to audit its own infrastructure up to and including the electricity meter,” Mgaga said.

He added that municipal infrastructure may not be tampered with in any way. Anyone found tampering with municipal property will be fined.

The uMngeni penalties are as follows:

• Tampering with electricity or theft of electricity will result in disconnection of the service with a penalty of R1 500.

• Severe damage and the theft of municipal meters will result in the removal of the entire service and will result in a R1 500 tampering fee, and the replacement of the service at an amount of ± R4 000 to the account of the customer.

Mgaga reminded residents that within the Howick borough only uMngeni- and Eskom-authorised infrastructure may be used by the municipality to provide electricity services to its customers. If anything else is used it will result in the disconnection of the service.

He also said residents should be civic-minded and report households that are suspected of tampering with and/or stealing electricity.

Mgaga said that electricity tampering and theft overloaded the electricity network. This resulted in damage not only to the network, but to residents who then suffer frequent outages. Constant repairs mean that money has to be taken away from other service delivery projects.

The municipality used the campaign to remind residents to conserve electricity and limit use during peak demand times — the mornings and late afternoon.

Other energy-saving tips include:

• Switch geysers off, limit the use of stoves, switch off hi-fis and TVs at the wall plug — these appliances use electricity while on stand-by.

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