GEORGE NEWS - A person died from electrocution after illegally tampering with the electrical infrastructure at Tamsui substation yesterday, 4 November. On the same day, a four-year-old child from the Asazani informal settlement had to be hospitalised after touching an electrical cable that was illegally connected between houses.
In a statement this morning, George Municipality expressed concern over the continued practice of rigging up illegal connections. It is conducting an investigation into the death and will submit a report to the Department of Labour.
The police has opened an inquest docket for a general inquiry into the death.
According to Acting Municipal Manager Steven Erasmus, both incidents are regarded in a serious light. He said the municipality remains deeply concerned for the lives of innocent children, adults and animals and that the danger posed by illegal connections cannot be emphasised enough.
“An illegal connection not only puts the perpetrator in danger of electrocution, risking injury and death, but also the rest of the community,” he said.
“These connections lie across pathways and walkways where anyone passing can easily be electrocuted. An additional risk is that illegally connected wires can also make contact with other items such as roofs, gutters and washing lines, making these items live and able to conduct electricity.”
The human body can only withstand about 50 milli-ampere (less than 1% of the current drawn by an average kettle) before a medical condition called ventricular fibrillation sets in. To safeguard people against this, each house with legal electricity and a tariff meter is fitted with an earth leakage protection unit.
Children can easily be killed, due to their lower weight, because illegal connections don’t have earth leakage protection.
An electricity connection is considered illegal when it is connected to the municipal network without the municipality’s permission. Connecting wires to a mini-substation or overhead pole is illegal. Other forms of electricity theft include illegal electrification schemes and tampering or bypassing meters.
Illegal electricity theft mostly occurs in areas where people live in illegal informal structures.
In terms of the Criminal Procedures Act, interference with and damage to Municipal property could be regarded as sabotage and if someone is found guilty of such an offence, a maximum term of imprisonment can follow.
The municipality will continue to actively find perpetrators and lay criminal charges against them.
Illegal connections should be reported to 044 803 9222 or 044 801 9222 or after hours on 044 801 6300.
The municipality confirmed that the Tamsui incident caused the power outage that affected Thembalethu and sections of Rosedale yesterday.
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