Security operation
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South African state-owned power utility Eskom is showing results through its efforts to curb electricity theft across the country.

According to Dileep John, head of Operation Khanyisa, a national campaign aimed at promoting safe, legal and efficient electricity use: “[the initiative] has helped reduce Eskom’s losses from 7,12% to 6,43%, which translates to ZAR1,4 billion [$70 million] electricity savings, every year, that Eskom would have generated at a loss.”

Since the initiative’s inception in 2010, there have been over 50 arrests of electricity theft suspects and over 25 cases on the court roll in the last three years alone.

Operation Khanyisa working towards sustainable future

Speaking at the recent Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities (AMEU) Convention, John said: “It goes without saying that the availability of basic infrastructure such as electricity plays a crucial role in any country’s economic growth. Reliable and uninterrupted power supply is of paramount importance to the economy.

“This is one of the reasons why Eskom, through Operation Khanyisa, continues to do everything in its power to curb electricity theft and to bring its perpetrators to book.”

Electricity debt remains concern for all

Eskom explained in statement that: “Operation Khanyisa’s success has been built on a two-pronged approach, namely a Customer Compliance Approach (CCA) as well as a door-to-door customer education campaign on the legal, safe and efficient use of electricity.

“Partnerships with law enforcement agencies such as SAPS, Crimeline and the Hawks [a SAPS’ directorate for priority crime investigation] to identify, investigate and prosecute criminal elements have also played a significant role.”

John further emphasised that electricity debt incurred by local municipalities remains a big concern.

“Electricity is a big part of people’s everyday lives and the illegal use of electricity, especially unpaid tariffs, has an adverse effect on the municipality’s ability to distribute and bill efficiently. This, in turn, translates to a hampered level of service delivery and essential services such as healthcare.

“Therefore, this Convention [the AMEU] has the heavy task of coming up with sustainable solutions to deal with the debt and other challenges impacting on the supply of electricity by municipalities,” John concluded.