Two syndicates involved in illegal selling of prepaid electricity vouchers appeared in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg on Monday, The Times Live reported.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, otherwise known as the Hawks, arrested a woman who was found in possession of ZAR100 000 cash, 18 mobile phones, two laptops and a list of electricity meter numbers at her residence in Vereeniging, Johannesburg.

This type of criminal activity is known as ‘ghost vending’.

The seized list and cash indicate an advanced involvement in the ghost vending syndicate, which has become a national problem, the Hawks said.

With the country immersed in a bleak power situation, this type of arrest comes at no better time, Senior Manager for Energy Trading and Sales Forecasting at Eskom, Maboe Maphaka said.

‘We have intensified our efforts to eradicate electricity theft through the implementation of the Customer Compliance Approach, which is being implemented by Operation Khanyisa’, Maphaka said.

What is ghost vending?

Ghost vending is term that has been given to the illegal purchasing and selling of prepaid electricity.

The parastatel power utility Eskom, reportedly lost ZAR350 million a year due to ghost vending, Maphaka said in a media report in July last year.

The problem of ghost vending escalated when prepaid electricity vending machines were placed in local grocers and retail outlets across the country. The machines had a unique system which operated with tokens, purchased from the retail outlet, however all machines have since been taken off the market.

‘The meters no longer accept tokens from the stand-alone vending machines. If a customer has loaded electricity from stand-alone meters, we remove all the credit and disconnect the electricity. To reconnect, they have to pay a fine’, Eskom told media.

In attempts to squash this criminal activity, Eskom launched a project in Limpopo Province in 2013 which monitored meters and unauthorised purchases were issued a fine, totalling around ZAR3.7 million to date.

 

(Pic Credits: sabc)

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Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl has been working in the African power, energy and water sectors since 2011, first with African Utility Week and now as the Editor of ESI Africa. She is also an Advisory Board member of the Global and African Power & Energy Elites publications. With her passion for sustainable business and placing African countries on the international stage, Nicolette takes a keen interest in current affairs and technology trends.