‘Meter tampering’ may have caused honeymoon couple’s deaths

Date: 21 Jun 2021

THE FAMILY of a newly-wed Crosby couple paid a R10 000 admission of guilt fine to City Power after the young couple was electrocuted, but police say no criminal case was opened.

City Power launched its own investigation after the newly-weds died in their bathroom in a cottage on their parents’ property.

The couple, Zaheer Sarang and Nabeela Khan-sarang, returned home on Saturday after their honeymoon and reported they had no electricity.

According to social media, 23-yearold Nabeela was head chef and manager at The Business Class Lounge – Mancosa, a restaurant at a college in Johannesburg.

She qualified with a diploma in professional cookery from HTA and has previous experience, working in three different 5-star hotels in Johannesburg as well as working in test kitchens with development chefs.

Khan-sarang was electrocuted in the shower and husband Zaheer died while trying to save her.

While police have opened an inquest docket, City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said they found evidence of meter tampering and an illegal electricity connection on the property.

It’s believed the residents tampered with the meter to bypass the calculation of consumption. City Power said in a press statement that the earth wire was disconnected and the current did not trip when a fault was detected.

“We have also fixed their meter and they promised to start buying electricity. However, the family’s electricity supply remains disconnected until such time the legal requirements for safe connection have been established,” said Mangena.

City Power records show that the family had previously reported problems but Mangena said they had only reported outages.

Residents across Johannesburg also reported being shocked when using taps. Mangena said these are directly related to the many illegal connections across the city.

Mangena said: “The family had connected a cable from our overhead cable supplying the main house, cut it in the middle before it could reach the main house distribution box and connected the couple in the other house. That cable burnt completely and we suspect it could be the reason for the electrocution.

“City Power found that the meter was bridged, and whoever did so disconnected the earth on the meter box, which is inside the customer’s house. This confirms our earlier suspicion that our network could have been tampered with, leading to instability in the voltage,” he said.

Illegal connections are common across the city and many consumers skip payments by stopping the counter on the meter. Numerous businesses reportedly also engage in this practice.

Mangena said Mayfair and Crosby are plagued by illegal connections, which are clearly visible. Across the city, illegal connections can be seen hanging dangerously from one building to the next.

He said the two cottages on the property did not have their own meters and were getting electricity from the main house. No one was paying for the electricity because the meter in the main house had been tampered with.

“Immediately where there is vandalism or tampering, there is malfunction already. We checked the meter and found that the earth live wire was not there. If it is not there, that creates shocks. You could touch a door and be shocked. They were not buying electricity after vandalising the meter and that can only be the reason why there was an electrocution,” he said.

NORMAN CLOETE AND SAMEER NAIK norman.cloete@inl.co.za

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