Electricity theft kingpin sentenced to 42 years

Electricity box. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Electricity box. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Johannesburg - A woman believed to be the kingpin of a syndicate which sold prepaid electricity was sentenced to 42 years in prison at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Maphuthi Jeanette Chiliza, 60, from De Deur, south of Gauteng will serve 18 years in prison for managing a criminal enterprise, 12 years for participating in a criminal enterprise in the form of racketeering, 10 years for the theft of a prepaid electricity credit dispensing machine belonging to Eskom and 10 years for numerous counts of theft related to the illegal sale of electricity.

Her sentences will run concurrently.

Her son, Nqobile Chiliza, 25, was found guilty of participating in a criminal enterprise, theft of an Eskom credit dispensing machine and numerous counts of electricity theft. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Divisional executive for Security at Eskom Tebogo Rakau said the company was pleased with the outcome of the case.

He said the sentences will send a strong message to those involved in this crime that electricity theft is a serious criminal offence and is viewed as such by the justice system.

Asset forfeiture

Rakau added that Eskom loses approximately R4bn each year due to electricity theft in its various forms including ghost vending, meter tampering and bypassing, and illegal connections.

Two other men involved in the syndicate responsible for recruiting customers Temba Dlamini and Tlhaloganyo Matthews were each sentenced to an effective six years in prison.

"We are grateful to the members of the public who have supported us in the fight against electricity theft by sending anonymous SMS tip-offs to Crime Line on 32211," Rakau said.

Prosecutor advocate Jacob Serepo launched an application for the court to review how the accused might have benefitted financially from their illegal activities.

If the court finds that the accused benefitted from their crimes, they could face asset forfeiture, including property and vehicles, Rakau added.

The accused were found guilty in December 2016 after a lengthy four year trial.

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