Electricity-theft-meter-tampering-1-photo-by-Eskom
Meter tampering in informal settlements is done to avoid the payment of electricity. Pic credit: Eskom

On Monday, South African state-owned power utility, Eskom, said that unnecessary and premature fatalities are on the rise due to the rampant exposure of illegal electricity connections.

The utility highlighted in a statement that the most disturbing fact is that many of those killed or injured were children.

Electricity is dangerous if not correctly managed

In an effort to reduce these public safety incidents, Eskom will embark on a week-long countrywide campaign, from 22 to 28 August, to educate South Africans about using electricity safely and responsibly.

The utility has identified four major problem areas, including the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces.

During the annual Eskom National Electricity Safety Week, which will start in Gauteng, Eskom officials will be visiting certain parts of the country to engage with the public and highlight the dangers associated with the unsafe use of electricity.

“The aim is to make communities aware of the basics of safe electricity usage and the risks associated with electricity theft, meter tampering, bypassing and illegal connections. The power utility wants people to know how to identify the dangers and what to do if or when they spot them,” the utility expalined.

Jace Naidoo, Corporate Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Senior Manager at Eskom, commented: “We occasionally get reports of people being injured or losing their lives as a result of the unsafe use of electricity.

“At Eskom, we want to get to a point where we eliminate all injuries and fatalities caused by electricity, hence we are going to the communities to ask them to help us in this fight.”

She added: “We are aware of the biggest causes of these incidents and would like to appeal to our consumers to assist us by avoiding connecting illegally or making contact with low-hanging cables.”

Through this campaign, Eskom also seeks to encourage all community members to report any unsafe conditions or connections they come across by calling 08600 ESKOM (37566).

This includes any cases of dangerously exposed or low hanging cables, illegal connections, vandalism, cable theft etc.

Naidoo said: “In the case of illegal connections, danger is posed not only to the people who connect to the Eskom network illegally, but also to the rest of their communities.

“Moreover, the illegal connections draw more electricity from the network than anticipated, which causes power failures and inconveniences to law abiding paying customers.”

Eskom notes importance

The utility has issued a plea to all consumers: “Although electricity is an essential part of life, it can be dangerous if not used correctly.

“It is always advisable to get a qualified electrician to do any electrical connections or repairs.”

The utility stated that only authorised Eskom employees and contractors are permitted to work on all Eskom structures.

 

Featured image: Eskom