Eskom says it has taken the unprecedented decision to restrict electricity supply to parts of residential areas around Johannesburg, where unusual surges in consumption have been recorded.
There has been a trend of surges during peak usage periods, between 05:00 and 09:00, and between 17:00 and 20:00, leading the power utility to suspect a link to illegal connections.
Eskom says the decision to restrict supply was taken to safeguard equipment and costs associated with repairs, as power is being used indiscriminately during these peak periods. It will be implemented on a rotational basis.
"This unprecedented measure is necessary to contain the situation. This is in line with our priorities of containing operational costs and [improving] plant performance," said Motlhabane Ramashi, Senior Manager for Maintenance and Operations in Gauteng.
Illegal connections and meter tampering have been identified as potential causes for the unusual uptick in usage in parts of Diepsloot, Braamfischerville, Ivory Park, parts of Soweto, the Vaal and Orange Farm.
Eskom previously stated that it seen a marked drop in electricity demand since the beginning of the lockdown, helping it to avoid load shedding. The company said the high usage of electricity could not be attributed to the current lockdown.
Illegal connections and non-payment for electricity are some of the challenges eating into Eskom's income, and the company has projected a R20 billion full-year loss for the 2020 financial year.
- Compiled by Sibongile Khumalo