File picture: Ziphozonke Lushaba
Johannesburg – A Johannesburg man faces time in prison after he was caught selling illegal prepaid electricity vouchers, a practice also known as ghost vending, in Kagiso township west of Johannesburg, Eskom said in a statement.

Eskom along with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Hawks searched the man’s residence and discovered 598 illegal prepaid vouchers as well as R8 500 in cash, before he was arrested and handed over to the Kagiso SAPS where a case of fraud was opened.

“The buying and selling of illegal prepaid electricity vouchers is a crime that has taken root in many parts of the country,” said Dileep John, Eskom’s Head of Operation Khanyisa, the national campaign aimed at fighting electricity theft.

“Many might think it’s a victimless crime, only affecting Eskom. But this is not the case. The loss of revenue suffered by Eskom due to this crime contributes to the need for the national power utility to increase the tariffs charged to paying customers. The price for ghost vending is, therefore, paid by society as a whole,” John said.

“So it is important that everyone helps kill the market for ghost vendors by refusing to buy illegal electricity vouchers and reporting suspected ghost vendors to Operation Khanyisa by sending anonymous tip-offs via SMS to 32211 (R1/SMS),” he added.

Eskom said that the arrest took place while another major case involving ghost vending was underway at the Palm Ridge Regional Court in Johannesburg.

The four accused in that case face a lengthy prison sentence after they were found guilty on over 16 000 counts related to electricity theft.

Sentencing proceedings against them are expected to start on February 13.

African News Agency