Power lines “’
electricity theft
on the increase
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 26 October 2010 – South Africa needs tougher laws on electricity theft to curb a steadily growing practice that is costing the country R4.4 billion rand a year in lost revenue, according to industry officials.

They pointed out that the country would face power shortages from 2011 to 2016 unless measures were taken to generate more electricity, but also emphasised that electricity theft remained a major concern.

“Government is in the process of reviewing legislation to enable law enforcers to prosecute those stealing electricity,” public enterprise minister Barbara Hogan said at the launch of a national campaign against electricity theft.

Brian Dames, chief executive of state-owned power utility Eskom said current laws did not treat theft of electricity as a serious crime and offenders only faced minor penalties. “We need to strengthen the legislative environment “’we have not been able to prosecute people for theft of electricity,” he added.

Dames said electricity theft affected the stability of the national grid and could contribute to rising tariffs.

Eskom “’ which supplies 95% of the country’s power and 45% of Africa’s electricity “’ is on a massive capacity building programme to boost electricity generation in the country and avoid a repeat of the 2008 power crisis which shut down mines and other industries.