South Africa: How about some really cheap electricity?

Being South Africa, I am not referring to some less expensive method of actually generating electricity but due to the inventive ways that South Africans have found to bypass the system. The impact of this sharp practice will place more pressure on the paying consumer in two ways: additional price rises and unregulated peak demand of up to 1500MW.

According to Chris Yelland, a director of EE Publisher, an electricity expert and a frequent guest on 702 Talk Radio, About 32% of all electricity delivered by City Power Johannesburg is lost to theft and non-payment.

The theft of electricity occurs in the following ways:

  • Fraud – meter tampering and bypassing, abstracting or branching off or diverting electric current
  • Illegal connections
  • By selling illegal pre-paid electricity vouchers from stolen vending machines
  • Through illegal electrification schemes
Illegal electricity connections -  electricity theft in PE

Illegal electricity connections – electricity theft in PE

The illegal connections take many forms but the most types relate to two types: bypassing the metre at the property itself and the most dangerous is by connecting a long wire all the way from an Eskom pylon or substation to one’s home.

This had tragic and fatal consequences recently when a woman a 37 year old rural woman, Princess Ntuli, was electrocuted by an illegal connection. According to paramedics Ntuli was walking barefoot with a bucket of water on her head in Intshawini, near Stanger, on Monday. The bucket apparently touched a low-hanging, live wire. Water spilled out and she was electrocuted. The unfortunate Ntuli died instantly. Two brothers had allegedly connected the wire to their shack.

What does this “cheap electricity” look like?

Illegal electricity connections - Less obvious

Illegal electricity connections – Less obvious

Illegal electricity connections#3 unsafe connections

Illegal electricity connections – unsafe connections

Illegal electricity connections#9 Meter tampering - less obvious

Meter tampering – less obvious

Illegal electricity connections#4 Illegal electricity connections#5 Illegal electricity connections#8 Meter tampering


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