War on illegal connections

2018-03-28 13:45
Msunduzi cracks down on electricity theft  The Msunduzi electricity department removed a mass of illegal electrical connections in Mkondeni on Tuesday. The illegal connections are thought to have been done by a well organised syndicate. Now Msunduzi say they are cracking down on the problem.

Msunduzi cracks down on electricity theft The Msunduzi electricity department removed a mass of illegal electrical connections in Mkondeni on Tuesday. The illegal connections are thought to have been done by a well organised syndicate. Now Msunduzi say they are cracking down on the problem. ( Ian Carbutt)

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Masses of tangled electrical cables connected illegally, allegedly by a syndicate, were cut and removed from the Mkondeni area on Tuesday morning.

Multiple complaints from factories and industries in the Mkondeni area about illegal connections and having their electricity cut moved Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo to tackle the issue hands on.

“They are stealing electricity like hell in this area,” said the mayor.

“I get constant calls from factories in the area complaining about the issue.”

On Tuesday morning, Msunduzi’s electrical department, along with Njilo and Msunduzi municipal manager Sizwe Hadebe, went out to Shortts Retreat Road in Mkondeni to assess the situation.

What they found were kilometres of tangled electrical cable inside multiple storm water drains, as well as cables found under the road and under the soil of a nearby plot of land.

One of the cables was traced to a plot with high brick walls topped with an electrical fence.

Another was traced to a spaza shop operating a few metres from the Msunduzi team.

“This is done by professionals. It is mostly Mkondeni that is affected but how can we survive as a municipality if this continues,” said Njilo.

Hadebe said when one looks at the workmanship of the illegal connections of the cables, “you can see it has been done by professionals”.

He said the cables had serial numbers on them so they would be able to trace where they had come from and whether they are municipal cables or from industry.

“They connect the electricity live. In some cases, they trip the electricity first and then connect. This is a syndicate,” said Hadebe.

Njilo said the municipality would have been unaware of the issue if they had not been alerted by businesses in the area.

“This is our campaign. We will be doing this weekly in various areas in Mkondeni,” said Njilo.

One of the affected factory owners, who wished not to be named, said the illegal connections had been an ongoing issue for a few years.

“At the end of the day, we employ 200 people, and when the electricity goes out there is no work, which means no pay.

“We have also spent so much money on new equipment and contractors to fix certain things when they burn out from the illegal connections.

“We have been very frustrated. We were even looking at relocating because no one can work under these conditions,” said the owner.

“I want to thank the municipal manager, the mayor and the electrical department for coming out and showing an interest in finding a long-term solution, because we need one.

“I hope they keep the momentum going because this issue is impacting negatively on businesses,” he added.

Hadebe said yesterday was “just the tip of the iceberg”, with Njilo saying “this is war” on illegal connections.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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