R100 for ‘free’ electricity

2014-06-11 00:00

WITH plummeting winter temperatures, Msunduzi Municipality seems to be fighting a losing battle against electricity theft.

In the Mkondeni area, factory owners who did not want to be identified as they were fearful of repercussions, reported that every day after 5 pm electricity is illegally connected from a sub-station in Shortts Retreat Road to the nearby informal settlement.

The owner said people who live in the settlement and work in the factories say they pay R100 each once-off to the “electrician” for the connection. The cable is removed early in the morning. On weekends it is connected after work hours on Friday and removed in the early hours of Monday morning. The illegal cable is said to be over a kilometre long so that it can run from the sub-station to the settlement.

The owners claimed that as a result of the illegal connections, they face constant outages or power surges.

“Last Saturday, we had no electricity. More recently our generator and computers blew up. We are now waiting for our electrician to check what can be done,” he said.

The owners said the municipality was aware of the problem as it was reported to them several times, but they claim nothing has been done. They said that at one stage the police removed the cable and took it away but two days later it was re-connected.

“The municipality should provide electricity for these people. It is dangerous for any­one walking on the road, they could get electrocuted by these live cables,” said one of the owners.

According to ward councillor Sandra Lyne, the informal settlement is on private property so it is difficult for the municipality to provide services there.

She confirmed that the illegal connections had been reported to the electricity task team that is probing electricity theft in the city.

A PUPIL walking to school was almost electrocuted in Masukwana (East) Street this week because of live wires from an illegal connection blatantly criss-crossing the street and the pavement.

His father, who did not want to be identified, said he has reported the transgression to the municipality, but nothing has been done. He is now taking his son to school and picking him up because he does not want to risk his life.

Another resident living in the area, who also did not want to be identified, said this time the illegal connection is outside a business in Masukwana Street between Burger and Prince Alfred Streets but next time it could be elsewhere.

“The theft is so blatant here you don’t know when you could be stepping on a live wire,” said the resident, warning pedestrians to be careful.

MSUNDUZI spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the municipality was doing all it could to curb the illegal connections that are rife within the city.

“There is a team of people that on a daily basis going around removing the illegal connections. The Shortts Retreat area is also included as well as the informal settlement around Masukwana Street.”

She added that the municipality had also appointed a private security firm to investigate syndicates that carry out the illegal connections and charge residents a fee.

“Unfortunately the communities who have all these facts are reluctant to come forward with information to be able to secure a prosecution of the culprits.

“The municipality is appealing to communities to please come forward with information,” urged Mafumbatha.

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