Woman accused of bribing official gets bail
THE 31-year-old Ethiopian woman, arrested in connection with stealing electricity and trying to bribe a Centlec official has been released on bail.
Bebush Sodebo Agidie briefly appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday where she was granted R8000 bail and her case was postponed to July 6 for further investigation.
Centlec spokesperson Lele Mamatu said the woman was caught allegedly tampering with a Centlec electricity meter.
He said they welcomed the arrest after the woman allegedly tried to bribe their revenue protection team.
“A fine of R39000 was issued to the owner, a foreign national and she attempted to pay a R3500 bribe. Our officials reported the matter to the police and the woman was immediately arrested by the Hawks,” he said.
He said the arrest came a year after the successful conviction of a man from Botshabelo who was handed a five-year sentence last March for electricity theft.
“He was found guilty of contravening the provisions of Act No 18 of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act of 2015, paragraph 4, Section 3 (1) and (b) 105, Schedule 2 under the Criminal Procedures Act of 1997.
“Electricity theft, meter tampering and vandalism of valuable infrastructure is considered a serious offence in SA and any other person or institution found guilty of stealing electricity, tampering and vandalising valuable infrastructure can be sentenced to maximum jail term period of 10 years,” Mamatu said.
Centlec CEO Andries Mgoqi urged all people and corporates to refrain from using any form of bribery with officials who are doing their work.
“Those found on the wrong side of the law attempting to bribe our officials will face the full might of the law and for officials who have accepted a bribe there will be serious consequences.
“However, I would like to applaud the good work done by the members of the revenue team who were involved in the operation, which resulted in the foreign national woman being arrested,” he said.
Mgoqi said, in the meantime, they were on a drive to collect revenue, especially from various businesses, institutions and companies that still owed on their electricity bills.
“The amount owed by various businesses and companies on electricity exceeds R100m, these include the towns of Kopanong, Mohokare and Mantsopa municipalities.
“While we appreciate and welcome some of the businesses, institutions and companies that are keeping up with their account, we appeal to those still in arrears to make arrangements to settle or have their accounts up to date. Failure to do so means not only are we going to disconnect their electricity, they will be handed over to debt collectors,” Mgoqi said.