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Criminal charge laid against municipal officials over child's electrocution


AfriForum has laid complaints of murder and culpable homicide at the police station in Leandra against two employees of the Govan Mbeki Local Municipality in Mpumalanga following the death by electrocution of an eight-year-old girl.

The charges were laid against municipal manager Mmela Mahlangu and head of technical services‚ Matimba Masiya.

The child‚ Charlene Jacobs from Leandra‚ was electrocuted on 10 August 2016 around 15:00 after she touched a lamppost while she and other children were playing in a street‚ the lobby group said.

According to AfriForum‚ an independent expert attributes her death to the illegal electrical connections on this pole and the fact that there is no earth wire attached to the lamppost.

Hillel Coetzer‚ AfriForum’s District Coordinator for Mpumalanga West‚ claimed that “the actions of Mahlangu and Masiya are criminal in nature because poor service delivery and impaired maintenance‚ for which these municipal officials are responsible‚ has led to the death of a child“.

“This is not a unique case; in Standerton a child was seriously injured when he was shocked by an open power box – AfriForum will also act against the Lekwa Local Municipality here‚” the organisation said.

- A 17-year-old youth died of electrocution while trying to re-install an illegal electricity connection in Philippi‚ Cape Town‚ on Monday morning.

“The young man and a friend tried to switch on the power supply on a pole-mounted transformer... after the circuit breaker tripped as a result of overloading from numerous illegal connections‚” the City of Cape Town said in a statement. According to the victim’s friend‚ he climbed onto the poles that hold up the transformer and while trying to switch on the electricity supply‚ he was electrocuted.

- Eskom on Monday launched a National Electricity Safety Week to highlight the danger of illegal electricity connections.

“Public fatalities and injuries due to the unsafe use of electricity remains a major problem. The majority of these incidents are related to contact made with electricity and illegal connections. Most disturbing is the fact that many of those killed or injured were children‚” the energy utility said in a statement‚ ahead of a visit by Eskom officials to the Zandspruit informal settlement near Honeydew‚ Johannesburg‚ on Monday.

The power utility wants people to know how to identify the dangers and what to do if or when they spot them.

Through this campaign‚ Eskom also seeks to encourage all community members to report any unsafe conditions or connections they come across by calling 08600 ESKOM (37566). This includes any cases of dangerously exposed or low hanging cables‚ illegal connections‚ vandalism and cable theft.

“In the case of illegal connections‚ danger is posed not only to the people who connect to the Eskom network illegally‚ but also to the rest of their communities. Moreover‚ the illegal connections draw more electricity from the network than anticipated‚ which causes power failures and inconveniences to law abiding paying customers‚” an official said.


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