Zero tolerance for all Emfuleni Electricity thieves – ELM

EMFULENI. – All cases of electricity theft found throughout Emfuleni – townships and suburbs – will now be charged criminally, the Emfuleni Local Municipality (ELM) has confirmed.

The local institution is battling to survive financially and suffers losses approaching R30 million per month alone from electricity theft – caused by both illegal connections and bypassing of pre-paid meters.

Extensive theft of electricity was also creating the wrong perception that smart meters – which are being installed to replace pre-paid meters – made electricity more expensive whereas smart meters merely reflected actual consumption, according to ELM.

Smart meter installation – which over two years have brought in R84million in electricity revenue alone for ELM – is still limited in Emfuleni and extensive theft through bridging or bypassing of pre-paid meters is continuing at “unacceptable and unsustainable” levels.

Mayoral spokesperson Lebo Mofokeng confirmed to Vaalweekblad that zero tolerance was part of Executive Mayor Simon Mofokeng’s turnaround strategy for the local authority, which also includes extensive smart meter installations.

“Irrespective of where we find electricity theft – whether through illegal connections or bypassing of pre-paid meters – criminal charges will be laid,” she said.
Electricity theft had reached “epidemic proportions” and indicated especially smart metering technology had to be extended for electricity and, in due course, for water.

“Such ongoing financial losses from thieving residents is severely impacting our ability to both render services and to create adequate municipal infrastructure in marginalised areas,” said Mofokeng.

Mayor Mofokeng had therefore instructed that any residents found to be bypassing pre-paid meters or making illegal connections be criminally charged.
Spokesperson Mofokeng added that ELM had noted several cases even in affluent Emfuleni suburbs with smart meters where residents made illegal connections to their neighbours’ electricity supply through digging tunnels for example.

“But this is far more difficult due to the stealth and work required to make illegal connections to neighbours and so we see that electricity theft in areas with smart meters is very limited.

“Smart meters give residents the power to monitor their usage at any time through their Consumer Interface Unit – sudden unexpected jumps in usage or power loaded which goes too fast may indicate an illegal connection,” said Mofokeng. (See our full report on illegal connections next week)
Call 081 566 0815 if you suspect an illegal connection to your home or business

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