At least eight people have been arrested in relation to theft and vandalism of electricity infrastructure in Gauteng over the past two months.

That is according to state power utility Eskom.

The entity said the arrests are the fruits of a collaborative effort between itself and the South African Police Service (SAPS) and members of the community.

“The arrests follow Eskom’s efforts to address the increasing incidents of illegal electricity-related activities in the province. Sadly, two suspects lost their lives due to electrocution as they tampered with the electricity equipment in separate incidents,” the utility said in a statement.

Eskom said acts such as the theft of cables and vandalism of equipment hampers its ability to deliver on services.

“Copper [cable] theft costs the economy between R5 and R7 billion a year, and Eskom spends about R2 billion a year replacing stolen cables. Eskom in Gauteng continues to heighten security in hot spot areas across its areas of supply as cable theft often leads to prolonged power outages and compromises the quality of supply, which affects businesses, essential services, as well as the day-to-day lives of society.

“Such acts of criminality result in loss of revenue for Eskom, are unsustainable for the economy and endanger the lives of innocent people, including those of perpetrators,” the utility said.

Eskom said the prevalent types of electricity-related criminal acts are:

Fraud;

Stealing of electricity;

Theft and vandalism of equipment;

Unpaid bills and buying electricity from ghost vendors;

Stealing electricity for personal use or third party consumption; and

Conducting illegal connections and/or using electricity in an unregistered meter.

Eskom Safety, Health, Environment, Quality and Security Manager Kith Maitisa said the utility is working towards finding solutions to keep the utility’s infrastructure safe.

“We are investigating and implementing alternative measures that will assist us to prevent the theft and vandalism of our equipment. We also would like to thank communities that report such acts to Eskom and to the SAPS. With the collaboration with the law enforcement agencies, we will ensure that these criminals are arrested and brought to book.”

Report criminal activities such as illegal connections, theft and vandalism of electricity infrastructure to law authorities or contact the Eskom Crime Line on 0800 112 722.

Source: South African Government News Agency