Civil rights watchdog takes on HCM

2015-08-13 06:00
PHOTO: supplied

Chris Fourie shows an illegal electricity connection.

PHOTO: supplied Chris Fourie shows an illegal electricity connection.

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SIX months ago Max Mbili, manager for Hibiscus Coast Municipality (HCM), said in an interview that the municipality will have zero­ tolerance with illegal electricity connections.

He said Eskom and HCM will form a partnership to teach Masinenge residents about electricity theft and put pressure on the SAPS to arrest electricity thieves.

This is according to AfriForum who said it was unfortunate that illegal electricity connections have worsened since February.

“The illegal electricity connections are getting so bad the Masinenge community is tapping electricity from Eskom­ power boxes, transformers and even from the MTN cellphone tower­ behind the SPCA in Margate.

“The latest method used by electricity thieves is cutting down Eskom poles to the overhead electricity cables,” said Wessel Pretorius, Margate AfriForum chairperson.

“This is totally unacceptable. The municipality is all talk and no action. It is time that Mr Mbili put his money where his mouth is and takes immediate action to resolve the illegal electricity connection in Masinenge,” said Pretorius.

Electricity theft is a problem for most power utilities worldwide and Eskom and HCM is no exception.

“Electricity theft, in the form of illegal connections, metre tampering, bypassing and stolen prepaid electricity credit dispensing units (also known as ghost CDUs), cost Eskom and HCM billions of rands in lost revenue each year,” he said.

“Electricity theft however, means more than just lost revenue for the municipality. It affects everyone living along the Hibiscus Coast, whether they realise it or not,” said Chris Fourie­, KZN AfriForum provincial co-ordinator.

“Electricity theft is also responsible for many deaths and injuries caused by electrocution,” said Fourie.

AfriForum has placed the Hibiscus Coast Municipality on terms and demanded that they submit a written plan of action to AfriForum by 10 August in order to combat these illegal electricity connections in the Masinenge Township.

HCM acknowledged receipt of the letter, but has not supplied a plan of action

If the municipality fails to adhere to AfriForum’s request, the civil rights watchdog will approach the high court for an interdict to remove these illegal connections.

Spokesperson for HCM, Simon April said the area AfriForum was referring to is supplied by Eskom and not by the municipality however, the municipality has continuously alerted the communities not only of KwaMasinenge, but all around the municipal areas, warning them about the dangers and illegality of electricity theft.

“It is therefore incorrect that the municipality is doing nothing or that ‘the municipality is all talk but no action’,” said April.

He said HCM could “only do so much” as it was up to community members to co-operate and report matters to the police.

“I need to also indicate that in the recent past there has been a decrease on electricity theft in the areas supplied by the municipality,” said April.

He added that Eskom, SAPS and KwaMasinenge communities are key in addressing the problem and “wondered why the attack is on Mr Mbili and the HCM”.

“HCM may be a partner in dealing with the issue,” he said. - Supplied

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