Shock deaths concern Eskom
Illegal electricity connections overload transformers leading to regular power failures and many fatalities
THE devastation caused by illegal electricity connections has came under the spotlight when Eskom announced an electrification programme in the informal settlement around Khutsong, only to find another person had died while trying to illegally connect electricity from the transformer yesterday.
Illegal connections are rife in the settlement near Carletonville in the East Rand where a lack of legal electricity connections has had people resorting to illegally using electricity from the electrified formal section for power.
The original formal housing was electrified years ago but the area has grown with a mushrooming informal settlement around it.
The electricity network in the township was initially designed for a maximum demand of 2kVA per stand, however illegal connections overload the transformers resulting in regular power failures.
The main challenges in the area include the overloading of the network due to illegal connections from informal settlement, Eskom employees being taken hostage when they remove the illegal connections, death threats and cases of murder being disguised as electrocution.
Speaking to The New Age yesterday the community said they did not see anything wrong with what they were doing and were willing to pay for electricity.
“If Eskom gives us legal electricity we are willing to pay but we are doing this until we get proper connections,” a resident said.
Gauteng Eskom’s customer relations area manager Thokozani Nsele said the power utility was ready to electrify 2 000 homes in the Khutsong area.
“The only thing we need is to finalise the numbers and layout in the areas with the local municipality.
“Fatalities and injuries to members of the public due to unsafe use of electricity remain a major concern for Eskom in Gauteng. What makes the problem even worse is that residents do not report injuries and fatalities related to electrical contact incidents,” he said.
From April last year to January there were 11 fatalities and 21 injuries in the area.
The main issues were found to be electrical contacts and sadly few people report the incidents related to illegal connections in fear of Eskom investigating and removing the connections.
Nine of the deaths were the result of electrical contact and most fatalities occurred in Germiston and most injuries in Zola and in the north.
Electricity theft, illegal connections, bypassing and the buying and selling of illegal prepaid vouchers remain a serious concern costing the economy about R20bn annually.
In the 2016-17 financial year there were 245 arrests of people connecting and selling electricity illegally.
Nsele said often children and adults werw seriously injured after making contact with electricity.
“Eskom is committed to reducing these incidents, whether through disconnecting these dangerous illegal connections or electrifying areas,” he said.
DANGER: Another person has died in an informal settlement around Khutsong while trying to illegally connect electricity from a transformer yesterday.