Izinyoka threaten legal connectors

DANGER: Thieves in Block 7 Snake Park steal electricity with illegal connections. Residents claim that Eskom is aware of the problem. Pic. Tsheko Kabasia.  Sunday World.
DANGER: Thieves in Block 7 Snake Park steal electricity with illegal connections. Residents claim that Eskom is aware of the problem. Pic. Tsheko Kabasia. Sunday World.

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

Eskom is fighting a losing war with illegal electricity connections in informal settlements across the country.

There are many electricity cable thieves and Eskom has admitted that they have failed people with regards to these illegal connections.

Jane Mofokeng, Eskom's communications practitioner in Randfontein, said: "We have tried everything we can to stop these connections but we are not winning. Technicians are sent out to the affected areas but they are victimised and stoned by those involved.

"We upgrade our network every time but the infrastructure is destroyed soon after that. This is a huge problem for Eskom," said Mofokeng.

She also said that looking at the high rate of these connections, one would swear that they were legal.

"We are concerned by the danger these connections pose to children because they run and play across roads where these cables are exposed," she said.

The problem has become too big for Eskom to the extent that the electricity supplier has now turned to the police for help.

Eskom and the government plan a join venture to launch a child accident prevention programme in August.

Residents in Snake Park, Soweto, say they are tired of the Izinyoka - illegal electricity connectors - in their area.

Lindiwe Sibiya, 36, of Block 9 in Snake Park said: "These people connect electricity from my meter box and have now damaged it. I fight with these people every day but there is no stopping them."

Sibiya said when she removed the cables from the box they got connected again. She said she was being threatened by those involved and Eskom has failed to fix the problem.

She said the problem has existed for about four years and three people, including a child, have died because of illegal connections. Even a horse has been killed.

Mabel Ngwenya, 67, said the electricity issue has caused her many problems.

"My new fridge is broken because of the problem and there is nothing I can do. I have to pay R1200 to fix it and I do not have that kind of money.

"I have been threatened with a gun. Now I fear for my life."

The two women said they now feared for their safety because Eskom and the police were not doing anything to help them solve the problem.

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