Electricity thieves come clean

2018-12-05 06:02

The Free State is among the provinces accounting most prominently to Eskom’s huge financial loss nationally.

The national power utility stated it was experiencing the highest energy and revenue losses due to theft through illegal connections and meter tampering.

Other provinces involved are Limpopo, Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and North West.

According to Mpumelelo Mnyani, Eskom’s senior manager for energy trading and sales, these provinces were hotspots for crime relating to electricity theft.

Loss of revenue is also incurred through non-payment by municipalities. Municipalities in the Free State are reportedly chief culprits, owing Eskom millions.

To curb electricity theft and non-payment, Eskom has launched its Customer Incentive Campaign in three provinces: the Free State, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

Launched in October, the campaign will end on 31 December.

Mnyani said the campaign offered a 50% discount off the tamper fine to prepaid customers who have tampered and by-passed their electricity meters, or who connected electricity in any irregular manner and used illegal pre-paid vouchers instead of buying valid electricity vouchers.

“The customers who come forward to come clean and be legal, will have an opportunity to have their electricity supply normalised without having to pay the full tamper fine and the reconnection fee,” Mnyani said.

“Pre-paid customers in the hotspot areas of Limpopo, the Free State and the Eastern Cape are the second phase of customers to be exposed to Eskom’s Customer Incentive Campaign after customers in Mpumalanga received the offer as a pilot project.

“We are prioritising the hotspot provinces first, with the view of covering the whole country in the coming months,” he explained.

Mnyani said the campaign also responded to customer demands.

“It means that where there is a high demand from customers for the introduction of the Customer Incentive Campaign, is where we are likely to launch first,” Mnyani added.

To be considered for the 50% discount on the tamper fine, or to enquire about more information regarding the offer in their area, customers can report to their nearest Eskom Customer Service Centre and bring along their South African ID or passport, meter number, pole or stand number and recent proof of residence.

“In addition to receiving the 50% discount on the remedial charge fee, prepaid customers who come clean during the said period will not be disconnected and Eskom will not charge them for the period that they did not pay for electricity used illegally.

“Furthermore, the customers will have debt relief, reduced power outages, free meters at their homes, reduced safety risks and will not face any consequences.”

He said that Eskom continued to put in place strategies aimed at combating energy losses and non-payment.

These include disconnections to those who do not come forward during the incentive period, the removal of illegal connections, subsidising low-income customers, working with law enforcement for arrests and prosecutions, tamper fines, as well as the replacement of faulty meters as part of the utility’s maintenance and refurbishment programmes.

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