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.
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:
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: