Shock deaths con­cern Eskom

Il­le­gal elec­tric­ity con­nec­tions overload trans­form­ers lead­ing to reg­u­lar power fail­ures and many fa­tal­i­ties

The New Age (Free State) - - NEWS - DIKELEDI MOLOBELA dikeledir@the­newage.co.za

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.

PIC­TURE: THAPELO MOREBUDI

DAN­GER: An­other per­son has died in an in­for­mal set­tle­ment around Khut­song while try­ing to il­le­gally con­nect elec­tric­ity from a trans­former yes­ter­day.

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