Suburb plagued by electricity theft

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iol pic wld india power out REUTERS A power cut nearly disrupted the National Energy Regulator of SA's announcement about electricity tariff hikes in Pretoria.

Pietermaritzburg - Power failures caused by illegal electricity connections in Pietermaritzburg’s Copesville, have sparked outrage among residents.

Sathi Chetty, who has lived in the area for 20 years, said the problem has become a daily battle between Copesville residents and shack dwellers who live on the suburb’s outskirts.

“Because of these illegal connections, we are very often sitting without electricity, a privilege that we are paying for. Our monthly bills also exceed that which we would normally pay, putting a huge dent in our pockets,” Chetty said.

He said residents were also worried about allowing their children to play on the streets, for fear they might get a shock from a live wire.

Another Copesville resident, Wally Singh, said residents of the informal settlements seemed resentful of people who do have electricity.

“It is almost like they are punishing us,” Singh said.

He recalled a situation last week where an illegal connection attached to a light pole in Mercedes Drive caused an explosion. The pole caught fire before half of it crashed into Singh’s backyard.

The Msunduzi Municipality admitted it was battling to curb illegal electricity connections in Copesville.

Spokesman Brian Zuma said the municipality had removed hundreds of illegal connections in the area a few months ago, but residents had persisted with their criminal behaviour.

Zuma said daily patrols were made in the “hot-spots” to curb illegal connections.

In October, municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi told the executive committee that there was a plan to electrify informal settlements from March next year in a bid to stop the illegal connections and save lives.

According to the proposal, the municipality has set aside R3 million to start electrifying the Copesville informal settlement before rolling out power to other areas. - Daily News

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