This is how people steal electricity in South Africa

Eskom has long warned of the dangers of illegal electricity connections, but the potentially fatal consequences of power theft were brought into stark relief by recent reports of the death of Princess Ntuli.

Ntuli, 37, was electrocuted by an illegal connection on Monday, 5 January 2015, while she was walking barefoot with a bucket of water on her head in Intshawini, near Stanger in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

According to reports, the bucket touched a low-hanging, live wire and water spilled out. Ntuli died instantly, emergency medical services spokesman Robert Mckenzie was quoted as saying.

In addition to the physical dangers posed by illegal electricity connections, they also represent a portion of Eskom’s so-called “non-technical losses”.

Non-technical losses also include non-payment, fraud, pre-paid electricity vouchers from stolen vending machines, and illegal electrification schemes.

About 32% of all electricity delivered by City Power Johannesburg is lost to theft and non-payment, according to electricity expert and director of EE Publishers Chris Yelland.

If these non-technical losses could be eliminated, peak demand would be reduced enough to completely eliminate the need for load shedding, Yelland said.

Below are examples of electricity theft that Eskom has found around South Africa.

Illegal connections

Operation Khanyisa, an Eskom project that aims to stop electricity theft, has said that such theft takes place everywhere and is perpetrated by people from all walks of life, including business people, farmers, and Eskom employees.

Illegal connections are one example of electricity theft and typically involves running a cable from an Eskom pylon to a home, office, or unsanctioned distribution point.

Some examples of this are shown in the photos below:

Illegal electricity connections in Cape Town near Phillipi
Illegal electricity connections in Cape Town near Phillipi
Electricity theft - illegal connection that is not obvious (photo by Eskom)
An illegal connection that is not obvious (photo by Eskom)
Illegal electricity connections in South Africa (photo by Eskom)
A bunch of buggeries – unsafe illegal electricity connection (photo by Eskom)
Illegal electricity connections in South Africa (photo by Eskom)
Dangerous illegal electricity connections in South Africa (photo by Eskom)
Illegal electricity connections in South Africa (photo by Eskom)
Illegal electricity connection above a building (photo by Eskom)
Electricity theft
Electricity theft in PE
Stolen electricity
Stolen electricity in PE

Meter tampering

Another example of electricity theft is meter tampering, where an electricity user bypasses Eskom’s meter to avoid paying for the electricity they use.

As with other forms of electricity theft, this happens in communities all over South Africa

Examples of meter tampering are shown in the images below:

Electricity theft - meter tampering (photo by Eskom)
Meter tampering (photo by Eskom)
Electricity theft - meter tampering (photo by Eskom)
Meter tampering made to look less obvious (photo by Eskom)

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This is how people steal electricity in South Africa