Electrocutions rise as illegal connections abound

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There has been an increase of illegal power connections since lockdown began. This is reported by Eskom during Electricity Safety Month as the surge in bad connections has also resulted in more electrocutions.

“Since we started with the different stages of lockdown, we’ve noticed an increase in illegal connections, which, sadly, has been coupled with a surge in electrocutions. This shows that for many South Africans, electricity safety is not the foremost concern,” said Senior Manager for Occupational Health and Safety at Eskom, Miranda Moahlodi.

The power provider uses this month to raise awareness about the safe use of electricity. “If we had our way, every month would be electricity safety month!

“But by committing 31 days once a year we aim to clearly place electrical safety in the limelight and forefront of the mind of people to assist in meeting our objective of ensuring zero harm to members of the public, employees and contractors,” explained Moahlodi.

The main risks associated with illegal connections are that the illegal wires are usually not connected to an earth leakage unit or other electrical protection which will “trip” or break the current if somebody touches a live wire.

“The insulation around these live wires is usually insufficient to protect the person touching the wires from getting shocked. If one combines this with the lack of earth leakage, then there is a very dangerous and often fatal situation where so many people are shocked or killed in this way every year,” said the senior manager.

“Communities also feel the need to protect the connections that are made illegally and when they see Eskom vehicles entering their neighbourhoods, they attack or intimidate our employees. We understand that cutting illegal connections may appear harsh but the reality of it is that this is very necessary,” she added.

Eskom appeals to communities to help curb the aggression and violence that Eskom employees are subjected to. “Remember to contribute by reporting all illegal connections, exposed wires and electrical wiring that appear dangerous to Eskom or your local municipality.

“By doing this you would have saved the life of a child or any person who was not aware of such danger. Let’s be each other’s keepers by practicing electrical safety, always,” said Moahlodi.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele

nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za