City disconnects illegal connections, arrests suspected syndicates

NO MORE: Kiki Johnson and Mzwakhe Mkwai from the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) Cable Theft Unit uprooted the illegally connected power cables discovered underground during disconnections of illegal connections in Germiston.

The City of Ekurhuleni has recorded close to R800-million a year in non-technical electricity losses.

One of the attributing factors to these losses is illegal power connections across the City.

The City has undertaken rolling operations of disconnecting illegal connections and arresting suspected syndicates.

Close to 30 arrests of perpetrators who illegally tampered with electrical infrastructure have been made in November alone.

These arrests were made during raids to disconnect illegal connection led by the City’s Energy Department and Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) to curb unlawful connections.

The City has resorted to using a harsher possible criminal justice process by using the new legislative framework (Criminal Matters Amendment Act No 18 of 2015).

Initially, people accused of tampering with electrical equipment could be released on bail by a police officer or a prosecutor as the crime was deemed a minor offence.

The amended legislation provides that bail for persons accused of crimes related to essential infrastructures, such as water and electricity installations, may only be considered by a court, not police officers or prosecutors.

It further provides for harsher minimum sentences ranging from three years to seven years for some of the essential infrastructure crimes, and regulated theft of ferrous or non-ferrous metal which formed part of the essential infrastructure.

Municipal officials, contractors and companies that connect illegally to the power grid will face the harshest sentences.

The Member of the Mayoral Committee for Water, Sanitation and Energy, councillor Tiisetso Nketle, said the City has adopted a hard-line approach to the illegal connection of electricity.

“In addition to the use of the criminal justice system to curb illegal connections, customers who are found to have connected illegally will face a back-billing from the day they stopped purchasing electricity,” Nketle said.

Those who want to avoid the consequences of illegal connections can visit the nearest Energy Depot to normalise their connections.

Residents are encouraged to report any illegal connection or suspicion of illegal connection activities through the municipal Call Centre on 086 054 3000.

*Issued by Themba Gadebe, spokesperson Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality

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ALBERTON RECORD

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