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Platfontein - While illegal electricity connections continue to escalate and threaten the lives of many, a Platfontein man is facing a charge of culpable homicide after a fellow community member, who was leaning on his garden fence, received an electric shock of 240 volts.
Werner Mbambi, 34, was found dead in a yard in Platfontein after he was apparently electrocuted while touching the electrified fence.
It is believed that the owner of the house, who fled the scene shortly after the incident, was illegally tapping electricity from a neighbouring house. He allegedly fed the electricity current to the wire fence surrounding his house. A sign, warning unsuspecting community members not to enter, is displayed on the fence.
Police were on Wednesday still searching for the homeowner, who is now facing a charge of culpable homicide.
Mbambi’s father, Kayanga Mbambi, on Wednesday said that he was called to the scene where his son had died late on Tuesday afternoon.
“I had just arrived at my home in Platfontein from Kimberley when neighbours came to tell me that my son had been found dead. They took me to the house and I found Werner lying on his back, next to a heavily electrified wire fence.
“His eyes were wide open but I could tell by the vacant stare that he was dead. On both his arms, long burn marks indicated that he had been electrocuted,” the distraught father said.
Other shocked !Xun and the Khwe community members, who witnessed the incident, on Wednesday related, with the assistance of an interpreter, what had happened.
“Mbambi was leaning on the fence with both his arms, while talking to a girl standing inside the property. The electricity was not on and he stood like that for quite a while. When the owner of the house saw him, he went inside and turned the electricity on. This caused a current of electricity to run through the fence and Mbambi fell backwards as he was electrocuted,” two young woman said.
They added that it appeared that the homeowner had deliberately killed Mbambi and said he should be charged with murder.
“After neighbours told him that a man had been electrocuted after touching his fence he laughed and said he didn’t care because the victim was from the Khwe clan, while he was a !Xun. To him it was a joke,” the community members added.
They also said that while Mbambi was the first fatality, he was the fourth person who had been electrocuted by the fence.
They added that this was the first instance of crime between the Khwe and !Xun clans, who up until now had lived together in harmony at Platfontein.
The executive mayor of the Sol Plaatje Municipality, David Molusi, also arrived on the scene on Wednesday to express his sadness at Mbambi’s death.
While surrounded by numerous more illegal electricity connections visible in the streets and yards of Platfontein, Molusi expressed a need to educate the community about the extreme dangers of these connections, to prevent more tragedies.
Municipal spokesman, Sello Matsie, said that it appeared that illegal electricity connections were rife in the area.
“In this particular incident, three houses were illegally tapping electricity from one other house.”
He said that in terms of the law, the maximum voltage to an electrified fence was 12 volts. “This means that 20 times more than the legal limit was being fed into the fence,” Matsie said.
He added that the law also stipulated that electrified fences needed to be connected to a house’s earth leakage.
Police spokeswoman, Lieutenant Andrea Cloete, confirmed on Wednesday that the Kimberley police were investigating a case of culpable homicide after the incident.
“A 34 year-old man, Werner Mbambi, shocked to death on April 15 in Platfontein. It is alleged that the deceased was called by a neighbour and on his way he was shocked by an electricity cable that formed part of the fence of the house. It is also alleged that the cable consisted of a very high electricity voltage. The deceased was identified on the scene by his father. Due to the sensitivity of the case no further details can be supplied at this stage but the investigation continues,” Cloete said.
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