ETHEKWINI NEWS FLASH

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

20 JULY 2015


EThekwini Municipality’s zero tolerance stance against illegal electricity connections, resulting in millions of rands being lost by the City, has led to the arrest of an illegal electricity connector in Clare Estate, last week.

The man, believed to have been disguised as a contractor hired by the Municipality was found with Municipal cables trying to reconnect electricity at a private property in Palmiet Road.

The City received a tip-off from concerned residents who were aware that the electricity meter had been removed from the property months ago.

“Residents alerted the City saying that they often saw the occupants renting the house in Palmiet Road tempering with cables every afternoon before the lights came on,” said a Municipal electricity technician.

An investigating team was then assigned to monitor the situation and keep a close watch on the property’s electricity consumption which led to the arrest of the culprit, who remains in police custody.

EThekwini Mayor Cllr James Nxumalo commended the work of the City’s Electricity Unit and South African Police Services.

“I commend the Clare Estate community for alerting the Municipality because acts of vandalism like electricity and cable theft, cannot be addressed by the Municipality and the police alone but require vigilance from members of the public. The City will intensify the fight against illegal electricity connections so that many more culprits will be arrested,” he said.

To track down illegal electricity connections, Municipal teams carry out sweeps, with heavy security, and do spot checks to remove illegal connections.

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

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/or initiatives taken in an effort to overcome the problem:

•Frequent removal of illegal connections: Our illegal services contractor teams, escorted by the security guards remove illegal connections on a regular basis. Some of the perpetrators of these illegal activities 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 these 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/citizens on safety, reporting of the theft of electricity and the consequences of connecting electricity illegally;

•The Municipality has previously deployed security guards in areas with high cable theft incidents, but this initiative was discontinued, as one guard was shot dead;

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

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’s Head of Communications, Tozi Mthethwa.

For more information contact Gugu Mbonambi on 031 311 4855 or email: gugu.mbonambi@durban.gov.za and Princess Nkabane on 031 311 4818 or email:princess.nkabane@durban.gov.za