Eskom: Measures to counter electricity theft paying off

Eskom: Measures to counter electricity theft paying off

Measures to counter electricity theft have proved successful with a number of convictions and lengthy prison sentences handed down in courts recently, Eskom said on Sunday.

eThekwini disconnects illegally connected electricity
Anelisa Kubheka

Electricity theft was a global problem, not only in South Africa, and according to online publication The Energy Collective, electricity theft accounted for one percent of all electricity consumed globally, Eskom said in a statement.

In its February 2013 edition, the publication stated that India lost up to 33 percent of all electricity generated and one percent of GDP due to electricity theft. According to the report, the US was losing an estimated US6 billion annually due to electricity theft, while the UK was losing an estimated £299 million per annum due to gas and electricity theft.

In South Africa, Eskom and municipalities lost an estimated R7.5 billion per annum due to electricity theft, the parastal said.

Electricity theft included illegal connections, meter tampering and bypassing, illegal prepaid power vending, cable and infrastructure theft, and non-payment.

“In recent weeks Eskom has arrested a number of culprits who have been found in possession of, among others, overhead lines, transformers, and pylon support lattices.

“The value of material stolen remains a serious concern, as it is indicative of organised, syndicate-driven criminal activity in the conductor theft environment, which is also experienced by other state-owned enterprises,” Eskom said.

The fight against network equipment theft was being addressed by means of intelligence-driven investigations by the Hawks, which encompassed aggressive policing of the scrap metal market for stolen goods.

“The courts are also taking this crime seriously and significant sentences are being handed out to perpetrators.”

A joint industry working group, formed by Eskom, Transnet, Telkom, the SA Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority, Business Against Crime, and the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, continued to contribute positively in the fight against this crime, Eskom said.

On January 29, Sibusiso Victor Zuma appeared in the Cullinan Regional Court and was found guilty of robbery, with aggravating circumstances, and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

This after he and two others stole cable rolls at one of Eskom’s depots in Sybrandskraal, Cullinan. Zuma was arrested on the spot. A second suspect had since died and the third was still on the run.

“Last week we reported that Sam-Ansalmo Rodrigues and Lewis Chemo were found guilty of theft and sentenced to seven years imprisonment at the Potchefstroom Regional Court, North-West, on Monday.

“Of the sentence, four years were suspended for five years. A third accused, Max Dumisani Ubisi, was fined R20,000 or six years imprisonment of which R12,000 or three years imprisonment is suspended for five years.”

The convictions followed an Eskom investigation which led to the three arrests in May last year after a 70mm wide and 1km long overhead conductor valued at R126,000 was stolen in Delareyville, North West, Eskom said.

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