MANY people continue to connect electricity illegally, ignoring warnings that electricity is extremely powerful and can be deadly if not treated with care and respect, says Eskom.In a statement made by the utility, they stated that illegal connections are one of the leading causes of electricity-related injuries and deaths in South Africa and innocent children are the most common victims. “An electricity connection is considered illegal when it is made to the Eskom network without Eskom’s permission. Connecting to a mini-substation or overhead network in this way is illegal. These connections pose great risks as they overload the system and can lead to fires and electrocution,” read the statement.Within the Upper Highway area there have been reports of illegal connections despite SAPS periodically warning against it.Hillcrest SAPS communications officer Captain Linzi Smith said that illegal electricity connections are a huge problem and they claim the lives of many people and destroy homes. “Illegal connections are dangerous and often result in serious injury or even death. This is due to overloading the network or incorrect wiring which results in people, children, being electrocuted,” said Smith.The captain shared that, a couple of weeks ago, she attended a scene where someone’s entire house was destroyed and he lost everything due to an illegal electrical connection. Fortunately nobody was injured or died in this instance. “The community are aware that what they are doing is unlawful and dangerous, but still this continues to be a problem. Despite trying to educate the community, by putting it in the paper, the theft of electricity also continues to add to this crisis. “Besides the illegality of the connections, it does put pressure on the energy crisis in the country in that those who are stealing electricity are robbing the country of its potential revenue,” she explained. Smith further said that there are also the dangers of repurposing gas or paraffin appliances to be powered by electricity, putting lives at risk. “One of the most common ways of repurposing is converting a gas cooker into an electrical powered cooker,” she said, adding that converted cookers and heaters aren’t fitted with the correct electrical cabling and insulation.“They have exposed cabling and aren’t wired correctly, meaning they can easily overheat or shock those using the appliances, which is a major concern,” she said.In conclusion, the captain encouraged the community to spend a little extra money on approved electrical appliances from reputable suppliers in order to reduce the risk of malfunction and the chance of fires, shocks, injuries or deaths. If you encounter an illegal connection, report it immediately while avoiding physical contact with it. Reports can be made to Eskom on 08600 37566 or via the SMS Crime Line on 32211.