Cape Town - Illegal electricity connections and a spike in vandalism of electricity infrastructure in recent months across the city and the province is costing millions of rand.
The state of electricity infrastructure has come into focus after a number of incidents, such as one in Langa at the weekend where infrastructure was affected by fire damage, and another in Wallacedene where the electrical equipment required to keep the sewer pump station working was torched.
Meanwhile, last month at a meeting between the George Municipality and its electro-technical services committee, it was revealed that 1 085 illegal electricity connections were removed in February alone.
Mayco member for energy Beverley van Reenen said: “There has been a spike in vandalism of the City of Cape Town’s electricity infrastructure in recent months.”
She said the City had budgeted for a significant boost in its efforts to curb the vandalism.
“This comprises about R40 million in the City's draft 2022/23 budget for the Energy Directorate to secure infrastructure, deploy security patrols in hot-spot areas, and permanent security deployments at strategic infrastructure.
“In addition, we are looking into innovative technology to trace stolen goods/cables, among others.”
At the same time, Local Government, Environment Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell told the legislature that it had cost George Municipality R300 150 just to remove the illegal connections.
“Lost income due to the illegal connections in the municipality is estimated at R1.4m a year.”
Bredell was responding to MPL Lorraine Botha (DA), who had asked how much it had cost to sort out the illegal connections, and which other municipalities in the province had programmes in place to deal with illegal electricity connections.
Responding to queries from the Cape Argus about the hardest-hit areas in terms of electricity theft and vandalism to infrastructure in Cape Town, Eskom gave a list of the hot-spot areas.
“Cable theft, vandalism and illegal connections are a serious problem in Atlantis, Blackheath, Bloekombos, Blue Downs, Crossroads, Delft, Dunoon, Eerste River, Khayelitsha, Klipheuwel, Kraaifontein, Nomzamo, Philippi, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Sunbird Park, Wallacedene and Wesbank,” it said.
Eskom said areas across the province where it experienced severe challenges with vandalism and illegal connections were De Doorns, Grabouw, Knysna, Malmesbury, Plettenberg Bay, Rawsonville, Thembelethu in George, and Witsand.