Johannesburg, South Africa --- ESI-AFRICA.COM --- 20 June 2011 - Over the past year Eskom has disconnected power from 10 000 illegal electricity consumers in South Africa, and has recovered more than R6 million from people guilty of illegal electricity connections.

On Friday the parastatal also withdrew the statement that farmers were the biggest culprits in terms of stealing electricity. Earlier this year, Eskom had said that farmers were responsible for large-scale electricity theft "’ an accusation which caused widespread discontent in the farming community.

Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe said the earlier statement had simply been a misinterpretation of the data.

“In the first place the agricultural sector used a mere 3% of South Africa’s power and "’ whether this was measured in terms of monetary loss or gigawatt hours "’ electricity theft among farmers was not at all substantial,” she explained.

AgriSA deputy chief executive Theo de Jager had said that Eskom owed the agricultural industry a huge apology.

De Jager claimed that Eskom’s contention that the agricultural sector was among the major electricity thieves had caused the industry astronomical harm. He said AgriSA was greatly relieved to hear that Eskom had reconsidered the matter.

Joffe said the company regretted any misunderstanding that might have led to unhappiness in the agricultural sector. Eskom was prepared to meet representatives of the sector if there were any further uncertainties they wished to discuss with the power utility.