Electricity theft is still an ongoing problem all over South Africa. It is not only about illegal connections and meter tampering as Eskom now has to fight the purchasing and selling of illegal electricity vouchers.
Eskom continues to implement revenue recovery initiatives to achieve operational efficiency and sustainability. According to a statement by Eskom, these include the curbing of illegal selling of prepaid electricity vouchers, or ghost vending as it is commonly known. These vouchers are illegal because the money paid goes to the syndicates and not to Eskom or the municipalities who need the revenue to maintain the electricity networks.
“The use of ghost electricity dispensers started in the early to mid-1990s. At first it was an individualised crime. Over the years it has grown to a specialised, syndicate crime. The possibility of ghost vending becomes apparent to Eskom as soon as there is a sharp decrease in the normal consumption of a customer or area,” says Monde Bala, Group Executive for Eskom’s Distribution Division.
Buying from illegal vendors is seen as bypassing the meter. Due to the fact that Eskom is losing revenue, these cases can also be regarded as criminal cases in a court of law. If Eskom finds a customer buying illegal vouchers from a ghost vendor, a residential customer will be required to pay a minimum fine of R6 052.60 up to R30 000, depending on the size of the supply. Customers could even face prosecution.
The statement further reads that customers are urged to buy Eskom prepaid vouchers only from legal Eskom national vendors that have their footprint and to not be tempted on social media by unknown people promising big discounts for their purchases. Customers are urged to report suspected illegal buying of electricity incidents in their areas to the SMS crime line number 32211 or call the Eskom contact centre on 0860037566.