South African parastatal Eskom has announced an increasing number of repeated equipment failures in some areas, especially within Gauteng.
The utility has attributed this to illegal connections leading to overloading, which results in failure of transformers and mini-substations.
This is exacerbated by meter tampering, electricity theft and vandalism of infrastructure.
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In a company statement, the utility explained: "Increased equipment failure has a significant negative impact on our operations, finances and safety of our employees and the public.
"Eskom has taken a decision that it will not be restoring power to areas that have repeated failures due to illegal connections, meter tampering and bypassing. Eskom will only restore supply to legal and paying customers in the areas, on condition that the community allows safe access to Eskom staff to conduct audits and remove illegal connections."
The utility added: "If we do not conduct the audits, we run the risk of continued failures without dealing with the root cause. In some areas, Eskom technicians have not been allowed to conduct these audits, which result in repeated failures of equipment making power restoration a wasteful exercise."
The statement explained that the decision comes after the extensive customer and various stakeholder engagements across the Gauteng province were concluded, which aimed at resolving issues related to electricity services.
Group Executive for Distribution Monde Bala said: “Eskom will continue to engage with councillors in all affected areas to deal adequately with these issues. Furthermore, Eskom would like to affirm its commitment to collaborate and engage with various communities to find solutions so that we can resume with our services.
"I thank and applaud paying customers for their continued commitment to paying for the services that they use."
We appeal to communities to report illegal connections and meter tampering including when Eskom employees are involved. The Eskom crime line number is 0800 11 27 22.