The Maluti A Phofung municipality in the Free State -- which owes power utility Eskom R2 billion -- said it would start penalising non-paying residents and businesses. Picture: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Johannesburg - The Maluti A Phofung municipality in the Free State -- which owes power utility Eskom R2 billion in electricity supply debt -- on Tuesday said it would start penalising non-paying residents and businesses.

The municipality said it had discovered that many residents and businesses had tampered with its infrastructure.

"As a result, the interim measures like installation of transformers, used to attempt to reliably supply have had little success due to the high pressure on the electricity grid in particular due to pressure received. This becomes overwhelming challenging to loyal paying customers to carry the load of the entire community. It cannot be just that only 29.4 percent of the municipality pays for services whereas the remaining 70.6 percent does not pay," the council said in a statement.

"As a result, the municipality has had no choice but to penalise and effect electricity cut off to those residential and businesses that are found guilty of tampering and illegal connections. Council policy will be effected to distribute necessary payment arrangement and penalties for those at fault."

Eskom attached Maluti A Phofung movable assets in March this year over an unpaid R2.8 billion power supply debt. 

Defaulting 10 municipalities owe Eskom a combined R9 billion. Three of the municipalities are in the Free State. 

African News Agency (ANA)