Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 20 January 2011 – In an effort to reduce the illegal consumption of power “’ which is estimated to cost the economy about R4.4 billion a year “’ Eskom is investigating other laws under which electricity thieves can be charged, such as fraud and racketeering, as well as the possibility of seizing offenders’ assets.
Business Report reports that this week Maboe Maphaka, a senior manager for energy trading at the utility, said Eskom was also working with the Department of Energy to reinstate section 27 of the old Electricity Act, which made electricity theft a criminal offence. It also made it easier for Eskom to prosecute offenders.
“In the past, we deliberately avoided the prosecution route in cases of electricity theft due to the legislation challenges we have. That is why there were fewer cases of electricity theft in the courts,” Maphaka said. “However, going forward we are going to use other laws even tougher than theft to prosecute energy thieves. Not all cases are ready for prosecution.”
He added that 5 000 gigawatt-hours of power were illegally consumed every year, and that electricity theft occurred in all sectors of customers. “These range from large power users (LPUs) to small power users (SPUs) in the various sectors of the economy,” Maphaka said.
“Audits performed thus far reveal that about 1% of LPU meters and 6% of SPU meters were tampered with.”
Eskom has partnered with various sectors of society to tackle the problem through an awareness campaign and crime line numbers that can be used to report cases.