Pre-paid split meters were introduced in areas like Soweto because people were tampering with meter boxes and stealing electricity, a civil society conference on the country’s electricity crisis heard on Thursday.
A split meter is divided into a pad put into each person’s home, while the rest of the device is in a tamper-proof box on the pavement or on a pole outside the house, explained Mbulelo Ncetezo, executive manager for electricity regulation at the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).
“Split metering was brought about by people tampering with the meter reader housing.”
Last month, Soweto residents protested against the installation of the meters, demanding they be removed and that people pay a flat rate for electricity.
According to a presentation by Eskom senior energy trading engineer, Rogeema Kenny, at Africa Utility Week in May 2012, revenue losses amounted to 82% among 3 788 customers in Chiawelo, Soweto.
After the split meters and tamper-proof enclosures were installed, revenue loss fell to 14%.
Soweto owes Eskom billions of rand in unpaid electricity bills.
Nceteza felt strongly about electricity theft, saying it pushed up electricity prices for those who did pay.
“You’re sabotaging the economy of the country. You should not do that. Don’t steal electricity.”