Illegal connections: 211 Joburg informal settlements accused of stealing City Power's electricity

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A City Power employee removing illegal connections at Lakeview informal settlement.
A City Power employee removing illegal connections at Lakeview informal settlement.
Ntwaagae Seleka
  • City Power has promised to continue raiding Lakeview informal settlement to target illegal connections.
  • At least three people, including seven-year-old Zoe Sauls have been electrocuted to death in Lakeview due to electricity theft.
  • The power utility has vowed to continue raiding the informal settlement.

About 211 informal settlements in the City of Johannesburg have been accused of stealing City Power's electricity.

City Power said it was losing billions of rands in revenue.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said a total of five lives had been lost due to electrocution. Three lives were lost in Lakeview, one in Alexandra and another life at Princess informal settlement.

Among those electrocuted was Zoe Sauls, 7, who died on 4 February, at the defunct Ennerdale Stadium, after stepping on a live wire.

Zoe was playing at the stadium with her friends when she died.

The unattended soccer fields at the stadium are covered with webs of exposed wire.

The wires are connected from the stadium high-mast lighting, supplying the neighbouring Lakeview informal settlement with electricity.

On Wednesday, City Power pounced on the informal settlement and removed illegal connections.

Mangena said they were in the area conducting cut-offs for the second time in less than a month.

"On 18 January, we conducted an operation in Lakeview informal settlement. We won't get tired to return and cut off their illegal electricity, because they are costly not only to us, but to infrastructure. We have witnessed many of our substations exploding because of overloading caused by illegal connections here in Ennerdale.

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"Whenever, there is an outage caused by an explosion, legal consumers are the ones suffering, including those working from home. They might lose their jobs due to rampant outages caused by overloading," Mangena said.

Mangena advised residents to petition government in order to have legal electricity installed like the residents of Princess informal settlement did.

City Power has budgeted R28 million to electrify Princess informal settlement.

"Some electrocutions are not reported to City Power. We know that in Lakeview alone, three people have been electrocuted to death. People are sometimes scared to report electrocutions because they know we are going to cut off their illegal connections.

"We have about half a million households that we provide legally with electricity. We also have 211 informal settlements with an estimation of about 5 000 households that are illegally connected. We think that the number of illegal connections could be more than double," Mangena said.

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