Education and awareness are still much needed on the dangers of meter tampering and illegal electricity connections, particularly in the Thaba Nchu area.
This is according to Eskom’s General Manager in the Free State, Linda Mthombeni, who was part of a team from the power utility that had embarked on a public safety tour in Thaba Nchu’s Selosesha Township recently.
“Young children in our community are making contact with live wires inside and outside the home. These children are often surrounded by these dangerous connections and are unaware of the live flow of electricity around them. Electricity connections that are done illegally are exposed and alive and have no protection. When these make contact with corrugated iron, steel roofs, and wires, even the slightest contact can electrocute or kill a child – as we have seen in Selosesha,” Mthombeni said.
According to information provided by Eskom, since 2012, Selosesha has experienced two fatalities as well as five injuries, which were all electricity related. “While our statistics show that the number of reported deaths and injuries has decreased over the past five years, the tendency is not to report incidents. Community members are afraid that Eskom will disconnect the illegal connections when they go to investigate an incident,” said Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg, Eskom’s Communication Practitioner, in a statement she issued on Thursday.
“Eskom is committed to reducing the incidents through disconnecting dangerous illegal connections and educating communities on these dangers. While our disconnection procedure involves assessing the situation and including the local police and stakeholders in the process, our first call is for illegal connections to end, thereby saving innocent lives,” said Mthombeni.
She further added that often it is the children who suffer the most as in one incident, a service cable was cut off by thieves, and they left it hanging low and still live. As a result, a child made contact with the low hanging cable and was badly electrocuted.
Also, in a recent meter audit conducted in Selosesha, 20 homeowners were found to have tampered with their electricity meters. Eskom stressed that while this also impacts the utility’s revenue, it also poses dangers as the protection mechanisms are disabled and the meter will not pick up any electrical faults in the home.
Eskom appeals to members of the public to report any unsafe conditions or illegal connections they come across by calling 08600 ESKOM (37566), and technical officials will attend to it as a matter of urgency.