MUST READ: Eskom sheds light on cable theft

Menzi Dlamini of Eskom Madadeni holds up an exposed cable which is linked to an illegal connection in Massondale, outside of Madadeni.

Eskom Madadeni has shed light on how cable theft, illegal connections and unsafe home wiring affected the safety of the community.

During a media briefing on Wednesday (September 27), KwaZulu-Natal spokesman, Zweli Khumalo discussed the challenges Eskom faced with regards to illegal electrical connections.

“Sometimes people are exposed to electricity for the first time, and they don’t know how to use it safely. Others can’t wait for Eskom or the municipality to come to their areas to legally connect their electricity, so they get anyone from the street who claims they can connect their electricity.”

This led to people being exposed to serious injury and death, due to poor workmanship and a lack of understanding about how to connect electricity properly in a home.

However, Khumalo hoped through a public safety announcement, Eskom could promote safety while minimising deaths and injuries caused by unsafe and illegal causes.

As part of Eskom’s Zero Harm campaign, the priority was to create awareness and educate both adults and their children about the dangers of electricity if not handled correctly.

A staggering 52 electricity related fatalities were reported in KZN over the past year.

These numerous fatalities and injuries were reportedly a result of illegal connections, cable theft, re-purposing of electrical appliances, overloading plugs and exposed cables.

Khumalo explained overloading plugs could result in devastating fires, while exposed cables and re-purposing an electrical appliance, so it could perform another function, could lead to death or injury.

While Eskom attempted to remove illegal connections and educate the community, Khumalo said staff were met with occasional hostility.

“Sometimes, people don’t want us to remove these connections and we can’t do our work as people do their utmost to stop us. This is one of the challenges we face on a daily basis.”

Eskom Industry Support Manager, Lee Mchunu, said the creation of illegal connections had become a fully fledged ‘industry’.

“We have come across incidents where Eskom materials were used to connect electricity illegally.”

He said illegal connections resulted in revenue loss, and hindered the entity in ensuring power reached those who had paid for the service.

“But it isn’t just about numbers. It is about the lives which are lost unnecessarily. It is also about children who are hurt and killed at times, through the negligence or greed of older people.”

Mchunu explained some deaths caused through illegal connections were not always reported, as bodies were sometimes removed before authorities arrived at the scene.

“Illegal connections and cable theft is a silent crime, as you don’t hear about it until you hear about it. But whatever we are tracking doesn’t match with the actual figures, and the deaths that are hidden.”

Both Mchunu and Khumalo encouraged the community to contact Eskom on 086 003 7566 to report illegal connections or to make enquiries about electrical connections.

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  AUTHOR
Quinton Boucher
Journalist

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