Durban - eThekwini Municipality on Wednesday cautioned the public against a scam in which people have been duped into believing that their electricity connection was illegal and then being bribed or intimidated into paying for the electricity to be reconnected.
eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said electricity customers in various township areas were being targeted by thieves who produce a fake letter, reportedly from the municipality, threatening the customer that their supply was illegally connected and would be switched off and the cable removed if they did not pay their arrears.
"They then request that the customer pay an amount of money directly to them so that the customer may not be disconnected," Mayisela said in a statement.
"While the municipality does send letters to customers who connect their services illegally, the public should be aware that at no stage should any payment be made to any individual in the field."
The municipality said payments to the city were only accepted at the municipal banking halls and cashiers in authorised centres.
"The city has a strict code of conduct when dealing with customers and encourage staff to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity at all times.
"Members of the public should ask for names and the company for which the contractor works. Contractors must always display ID Cards and must be in red overalls, failing which they should not be allowed in the customer's premises."
Mayisela said the contractor had to inform the customer of his or her intention, while any contractor vehicle also had to display the company logo.
"The customers may call at any of the Electricity Customer Service Centers to confirm the validity of the job being undertaken or alternatively to call the Contact Center number 080 1313 111."
The municipality warned residents that illegal connections were not only dangerous, but they cost the city millions of rand each year, making it difficult to ensure sustainability of supply and roll-out of service delivery.
"The city appeals to those with information to come forward. Should anyone encounter such illegal activity, please report it to the City Integrity and Investigation Unit on 0800 202020 immediately."
African News Agency (ANA)