Official arrested for illegal electricity connection

Manager tells senior councillors that further arrests and prosecutions over illegal electricity connections loom. Picture: SAPS

Manager tells senior councillors that further arrests and prosecutions over illegal electricity connections loom. Picture: SAPS

Published Feb 25, 2024


Durban — Msunduzi Municipality’s acting deputy municipal manager Simphiwe Mchunu says that its partnership with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is starting to yield results with arrests and prosecutions linked to illegal electricity connections.

Mchunu briefed an executive committee meeting on Thursday on how the electricity business unit was performing just two days after the Hawks arrested a communications official in uMgungundlovu District Municipality. The official appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on charges of tampering with infrastructure.

Mchunu acknowledged that the municipality still faced challenges in a number of areas, especially revenue generation as a significant number of people were illegally connected, but he pointed to how working with law enforcement agencies was helping.

“The working relationship with the NPA is starting to bear fruit as witnessed during the arrest and prosecution of one customer that had reconnected electricity illegally a number of times,” Mchunu told exco members.

It has emerged that the accused had been disconnected a number of times, and in each instance had reconnected the power supply illegally. The municipality was alarmed by this.

The communications official was monitored over a year during which time she had accumulated a debt of nearly R300 000. She was released on bail of R1000 and the hearing was adjourned to April 10.

Mchunu added that aside from the arrest of an official from the uMgungundlovu District Municipality, the partnership with the NPA had led to the conviction and sentencing of a customer to 10 years’ jail.

“We hope that this will send a message to customers that illegal power connections will not be tolerated,” he said.

The municipality said it has taken a hard stance against residents who had illegal connections and who tampered with meters on their properties.

As part of implementing credit control and debt collection policy and by-laws, it had undertaken meter audits where illegal connections and tampering with water and electricity meters had been uncovered.

It added that it had issued notices and fines associated with the damage to council property.

“Some property owners have not complied with the notices issued and their properties have continuously been found illegally reconnected to the network. In line with the Criminal Matters Amendment Act No 18 of 2015, criminal proceedings have had to be instituted against those property owners,” said the municipality.

Consumers have been urged to refrain from making illegal water and electricity connections and to report water and electricity theft. It warned of drastic legal action against offenders.

Some councillors believe that the nabbing of the official could be the tip of the iceberg as there are suspicions that more officials are using electricity and water through illegal connections.

The municipality has estimated that it is owed millions of rand due to illegal connections.

Sunday Tribune