Illegal lights burn R2bn

Date: 18 Feb 2019

City Power’s operation to cut off shady connections gains momentum

ILLEGAL electricity connectors charge a mere R200 for the job, but City Power loses billions of rand each year.

CITY Power officials remove illegal electricity connections in Emhlangeni informal settlement in Roodepoort. The power utility loses more than R2bn each year to this crime.

Last week, angry Emhlangeni informal settlement residents in Grobler Park in Roodepoort went on the rampage damaging formal dwellings in the area after City Power officials disconnected them.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena yesterday said the operation at the informal settlement in the West Rand was an ongoing campaign in the whole of the City of Joburg to cut illegal connections, which cost the entity a lot of money.

“These illegal connections, including constant trips, have been inconveniencing the paying customers across the street.

“The recent operation involved moving the main cable from the side of the road near the informal settlement to the other side which would force people to cross the main street if they wanted to illegally connect,” Mangena said.

He said these illegal connections cost City Power more than R2 billion annually.

“There are unscrupulous individuals who offer illegal connection services in poorer communities for a fee of as little as R200.

“These individuals have turned this activity into an entrepreneurial venture,” Mangena said.

He said that in some instances, these individuals illegally connect to street lights, thus putting a strain on the power grid.

“Photo cells, which are devices that switch the street lights on at dusk and off at dawn, are also stolen, which causes the lights to burn throughout the day,” Mangena said.

A resident who owns a house in Grobler Park said he was away most of the time due to work, but his electricity bill was ridiculous.

“I pay for electricity I do not use. The people in the informal settlement switch on heaters even during the day, and they cook and do all kinds of things. I have a solar geyser and use a gas stove. It is unfair that I have to pay for electricity I do not consume,” said the man.

Mangena said illegal connections, as proved recently during mayor Herman Mashaba’s campaign, were not only in informal settlements but even in formal suburbs, businesses and factories, where a lot of money was lost.

He warned about the dangers of illegal connections. He said they posed a danger to children’s lives and caused network overloading, leading to power interruptions.

To report illegal connections or give officials a tip-off anonymously, contact 0800 002 587.

By SIBONGILE MASHABA sibongile.mashaba@inl.co.za @smashaba

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