Johannesburg - An audit has found farmers are responsible
for nearly half the incidents of electricity theft countrywide, Eskom said on
"A national audit of medium to large power users has
revealed that the agricultural sector has the highest incidence of electricity
theft, with farmers being responsible for up to 48% of electricity theft
incidents," it said.
A senior manager with the utility's energy loss programme,
Maboe Maphaka, said Eskom had adopted a zero tolerance approach to the crime,
and would address the matter with representatives from the National Maize
Producers' Organisation (Nampo).
"Nampo is the obvious platform to engage with an
estimated 70 000 people (within the agricultural sector) to drive home the need
for legal power use... and to mobilise farmers to report illegal
He said investigations had revealed that syndicates were
operating on a "large scale across the country", enticing farmers to
tamper with their electrical installations. Some electricians and Eskom employees
were implicated in the practice, charging up to R3 000 a meter, or point, for
"More often than not, in areas where Eskom has
conducted audits... further investigation revealed that up to 80% of points in
the area had also been tampered with," he said.
Maphaka called for a stop to such electricity
theft."There is no need to resort to crime as there are so many ways to
save electricity and cut costs."
He said that Eskom - together with Agri SA, Business Against
Crime, Business Unity SA, Proudly SA and the SA Chamber of Commerce - would
mobilise the business and agriculture sectors to join its Operation Khanyisa,
aimed at halting electricity theft.
Agri SA President Johannes Möller said his organisation takes
a principled stance when it comes to all forms of crime, including electricity
"We are particularly worried about the trend of
electricity theft among farmers. In support of Operation Khanyisa, we will be
taking a proactive stance in urging the farming community and broader
agricultural sector to ensure our house is in order by not engaging in any form
of electricity theft and by driving sustainable, compliant and fully
responsible energy use," he said.
He said farmers who stole electricity had an unfair
advantage over the law-abiding ones.