ETHEKWINI NEWS FLASH

19 FEBRUARY 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EThekwini Municipality Intensifies Fight Against Illegal Electricity Connections 

Thousands of illegal electricity wires were disconnected today, 19 February 2016, as the City continues to fight the scourge of illegal connections. Further clean-up operations are scheduled in other areas.

The joint operation was undertaken by officials from eThekwini Municipality’s Electricity Unit, Eskom, Telkom, officers from the South African Police Service and other law enforcement agencies.

Thousands of illegally connected electricity wires in the Sitaram and Imona informal settlement area in uThongathi were removed. The area was identified as one of the City’s illegal connection hotspots and was enclosed by a web of live wires that hung dangerously over wire fencing, trees, houses, washing lines and in pathways.

A Senior Technician from the Revenue Protection Unit in the Northern and Northwestern region said the area was selected for the joint operation due to a growing number of reports of people and livestock being electrocuted. 

The official said he suspected that a syndicate was operating in the area. Police and the City forensic team would be handling the matter. 

He said the City had had a number of successful disconnection operations in recent months but there were still challenges such as illegal reconnections. Despite these challenges, he said further clean-ups operations were scheduled in other areas.

However, their efforts are not always appreciated. “As much as this is for the good of the community we are met with resistance from residents. During disconnection operations people become volatile and threaten us. We always bring armed law enforcement with us as the community can become violent,” he said.

The scourge of illegal electricity connections has been an on-going challenge in eThekwini Municipality. 

The Municipality has continuously warned residents against cable and electricity theft as it often results in devastating and tragic consequences such as loss of life as well as damage to infrastructure which costs the Municipality approximately R230 million annually.

Several initiatives including modifications to the infrastructure have been taken to minimise the impact of illegal connections. 

The following are some of the modifications made to the infrastructure and initiatives taken in an effort to overcome the problem:

•Frequent removal of illegal connections. Our illegal services contractor teams, escorted by security guards, remove illegal connections on a regular basis. Some perpetrators have been arrested however, charges are often dropped due to the lack of tangible evidence and the low fines imposed are not a deterrent;

•Affected service connections have been converted from underground mains to overhead mains to minimise the interruption of supply to customers;

•The overhead, bare copper, low voltage circuits have been replaced with aerial bundled conductor (ABC) as a deterrent to tapping onto the exposed copper lines;

•Circuits have been reconfigured to reduce the interruption of supplies; 

•Awareness programmes are conducted regularly to educate customers and residents on safety, reporting the theft of electricity and the consequences of connecting electricity illegally and;

•Short poles have been replaced with longer ones to prevent access to the overhead cables/connections. 

EThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo invites the public to share their ideas with the City, including any advanced cable theft prevention methods that will help us win the fight against this crime.

Any suspicion of cable theft must be reported to the following numbers: 

Electricity’s call centre 080 13 13 111, sms: 083 700 0819 or email custocare@elec.durban.gov.za

Cable Theft Hotline 031 311 9611

•SAPS 10111

Metro Police Emergency Line 031 361 0000.

ENDS

Issued by the eThekwini Municipality Head of Communications, Tozi Mthethwa.

For more information contact Gugu Sisilana on 0313114855 or email: gugu.mbonambi@durban.gov.za or Princess Nkabane on 031 311 4818 or princess.nkabane@durban.gov.za

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