More death from wires

2015-01-09 00:00

ILLEGAL electricity connections have claimed three lives in Pietermaritzburg this week, the most recent being Mthobisi Mokoena who died in Copesville yesterday.

Mokoena (23) was electrocuted and died on the spot yesterday afternoon in the Swapo informal settlement — less than a day after Nontobeko Mjoli (five) was electrocuted at Jika Joe informal settlement.

Mokoena’s sister, Cecelia Mofokeng, said he had finished washing his clothes and attempted to hang them on what he thought was the washing line.

“He thought the illegal wires were a washing line and he was struck down and died,” said Mofokeng, who fought back tears and struggled to talk.

Mokoena was new to the area and had started renting a shack there last week.

He was still clutching the wires with both hands and facing the sky, with his wet washing a metre away from him, when The Witness arrived at the scene.

Both poles holding up the wires that struck him down had collapsed.

Scores of shack dwellers, some of whom had babies on their backs, surrounded the body in disbelief.

At the scene, ER24 spokesperson Andrew Rogers said: “He suffered burn marks on his hands and arm. We have to wait for Eskom to switch off the power. We can’t do anything because we don’t know which wires are live.”

He added that the state of wiring in the area was terrible and it’s very dangerous.

Oblivious to the incident, barefoot children were seen sitting next to multiple live wires.

“We are scared. We just jump them,” said one child.

With wires leading from one shack to another over her head, a woman at the scene was overheard saying: “There is nothing you can do. We want to watch TV.”

Watching residents there, it was evident that they are scared of the wires, as they crouched and twisted their bodies to avoid them.

Another man was electrocuted and died in Swapo on Monday.

Msunduzi Municipality mayor Chris Ndlela said he had not received a report about the string of illegal connection deaths but offered condolences to affected families.

“People must refrain from illegally connecting electricity to their households to avoid these nasty incidents. It’s very painful that people continue to lose their lives,” Ndlela said.

He said the city has plans to electrify all informal settlements, such as Jika Joe, Swapo and Ezinketheni.


KZN Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Robert Mckenzie said: “People are urged to only have qualified electricians perform electrical work for them.

“They should also be on the constant look out for cables and wires that have been illegally connected that may have been run along the ground or are hanging low, which are extremely dangerous as often there is no insulation. The earth leakage may have been bypassed, which may result in a continued shock being delivered from the wire. These connections must be reported to the authorities.

“After a suspected electrocution, people wanting to assist the victim must also be extremely cautious as the wires may still be live and if still touching the victim, this could mean that people wanting to assist can also be electrocuted when touching the victim. Emergency services must be called to assist.”

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