GEORGE NEWS - George Municipality appeals to the residents of George to report any illegal electrical connections they are aware of as this practice has led to fatalities and is one of the causes of the continuous power outages experienced in the various zones of Thembalethu.
Mr Trevor Botha, Municipal Manager of George, says the highly dangerous conditions caused by illegal connections, cannot be emphasized enough.
“I am deeply concerned for the lives of innocent children, adults as well as animals. We can prevent this danger if illegal connections are reported and removed. The risks associated with illegal connections are real and it is serious.”
Botha said legal consumers should seriously consider how these illegal connections affect them and their families. An illegal connection not only puts the perpetrator in danger of electrocution, risking injury and death but also the rest of the community. 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) through it, 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, as a result of illegal connections not having earth leakage protection.
He said the organisation can simply not keep up with the high costs of replacing transformers that can cost between R50 000 to R60 000 per unit. In January an electrical box caught fire due to an overload as a result of illegal connections and the fire caused damage to the distribution transformer. Due to a limited budget, that could mean that people that have waited long for legal electricity cannot be supplied as the funds have to be utilized for repairs and vandalism.
An electricity connection is considered illegal when it is connected to the George Municipal network without the organisation’s permission.
Wires are connected to a mini-substation or overhead pole. The forms of electricity theft include illegal connections, illegal electrification schemes and meter tampering and bypassing. These illegal electrical thefts are mostly in areas where illegal informal structures are built.
Where people have connected themselves illegally, George Municipality will continue to actively find the perpetrators and lay criminal charges against them. In terms of the Criminal Procedures Act, interference with and the damage to Municipal property, could be regarded as sabotage and should someone be found guilty of such an offence, a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years can follow.
Illegal connections should be reported to 044 803 9222 or 044 801 9222 or after hours on 044 801 6300.
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