Contrary to common belief, electricity theft is not just a residential issue; many big and small businesses are also guilty of this practice.
Electricity theft campaign: Focus shifts
Eskom, through its Operation Khanyisa campaign, which promotes legal, safe and efficient electricity use, is intensifying its fight against electricity theft in the business community.
“Contrary to the commonly held belief that electricity theft only takes place in residential areas, this crime is also prevalent in the business community,” says Dileep John, Head of Operation Khanyisa.
“The general perception is that the perpetrators of this crime are individuals in residential areas, but this perception is false as businesses are equally guilty of committing it,” John said.
Example: Mankweng in the Limpopo Province
Here a number of small business owners were found to have been connected illegally. To make matters worse, certain contractors tasked by Eskom to disconnect these transgressors, were found to have been colluding with them instead.
In one case the owner of a popular pizza franchise appeared in the Mankweng Magistrate’s Court for receiving power through an illegal connection, after being disconnected by Eskom.
A tavern owner was fined and his power disconnected after it emerged that he had been connected illegally since 2011, aided by an Eskom appointed contractor.
Law enforcement strategy
Part of Operation Khanyisa’s strategy has been to employ law enforcement agencies against perpetrators in all sectors, including business and residential. They have joined forces with the Hawks, SAPS and Crime Line to fight the scourge of electricity theft.
This has resulted in the arrest of 50 electricity theft suspects and court prosecutions against 26.
The focus has shifted to the business community and the unscrupulous contractors who, instead of disconnecting transgressors, have been taking bribes.
The consequences for the transgressors and contractors could be prison sentences.
Ripple effects of electricity theft
Apart from the loss to Eskom and municipalities, electricity theft leads to prolonged and unplanned power cuts which have serious consequences for law abiding compliant customers including clinics, schools and businesses.
Report electricity theft anonymously
Eskom urges people to keep on reporting electricity theft anonymously to Crime Line on 32211 at R1 for an SMS.