Power thefts: police go in to guard switch-off crew

2010-10-21 00:00

A STRONG security contingent with three police vehicles and four municipal security vehicles was dispatched to escort Msunduzi electricity employees to perform disconnections in the Copesville area yesterday.

This comes after the employees were stoned by the community on their previous visit.

Msunduzi electricity was carrying out disconnections in the area because it has been plagued by blackouts caused by illegal connections.

At least two cables, which were illegally hot-wired to the main power line and caused overloading and power outages, were removed.

Some employees were reluctant to climb up the ladder to turn off the power as they feared another attack from the community members who had gathered around them.

An employee of Msunduzi electricity, who declined to be named, said the disconnections were a futile process. “By nightfall these connections will be back on. The municipality has not removed these people from this land and that means they are here legally and hence they should be provided with the electricity.

“That would lift a financial burden because the municipality would at least receive payment rather than settling huge debts with Eskom caused by electricity theft,” he added.

Copesville residents said they are hoping for a solution as they were at their wits’ end. They said they are without electricity several times a month.

“The copper thieves have stolen the cables at least four times and at times they dig up the buried electricity lines,” said one of the residents.

“At times we find that only the lights are working and nothing else. This past month has been one of the worst as we were without electricity most of the time.”

The resident said the thieves have become more brazen. “When we are sitting at our homes we can see them digging up the cables, and if they see you watching them, they come to your house and throw stones.”

Another source said the electricity blackouts were the result of sabotage by residents of the informal settlement. “They are demanding electricity and water and say they too should receive those benefits.”

Maxwell Mthembu, the electricity process manager at the Msunduzi Municipality, urged the community to stop stealing, saying the municipality is working on a plan to put electricity into the area.

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