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Farmers fingered for Eskom power theft

May 17 2011 16:58

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Power theft costs R4.4bn


Johannesburg - An audit has found farmers are responsible for nearly half the incidents of electricity theft countrywide, Eskom said on Tuesday.

"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 activities."

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 their services.

"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 theft.

"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. 

eskom  |  farmers  |  cable theft


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