Thousands of illegal electricity wires were disconnected recently as the eThekwini Municipality continues to fight the scourge of illegal connections.
The joint operation was undertaken by officials from eThekwini Municipality’s Electricity Unit, Eskom, Telkom, officers from the South African Police Service and other law enforcement agencies.
Thousands of illegally connected electricity wires in the Sitaram and Imona informal settlement area in uThongathi were removed.
The area was identified as one of the City’s illegal connection hotspots and was enclosed by a web of live wires that hung dangerously over wire fencing, trees, houses, washing lines and in pathways.
A senior technician from the Revenue Protection Unit in the Northern and Northwestern region said the area was selected for the joint operation due to a growing number of reports of people and livestock being electrocuted.
The official said he suspected that a syndicate was operating in the area. Police and the City forensic team would be handling the matter.
The Municipality has continuously warned residents against cable and electricity theft as it often results in devastating and tragic consequences such as loss of life as well as damage to infrastructure which costs the Municipality approximately R230 million annually.
Several initiatives including modifications to the infrastructure have been taken to minimise the impact of illegal connections.
The following are some of the modifications made to the infrastructure and initiatives taken in an effort to overcome the problem:
- Frequent removal of illegal connections.
- Affected service connections have been converted from underground mains to overhead mains to minimise the interruption of supply to customers;
- The overhead, bare copper, low voltage circuits have been replaced with aerial bundled conductor (ABC) as a deterrent to tapping onto the exposed copper lines;
- Circuits have been reconfigured to reduce the interruption of supplies;
- Awareness programmes are conducted regularly to educate customers and residents on safety, reporting the theft of electricity and the consequences of connecting electricity illegally and;
- Short poles have been replaced with longer ones to prevent access to the overhead cables/connections.