Power cuts in George after 3-year-old electrocuted

The power supply to the Dube area in George in the Western Cape was cut after a three-year-old was electrocuted due to an illegal power connection.
The power supply to the Dube area in George in the Western Cape was cut after a three-year-old was electrocuted due to an illegal power connection.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

The George municipality in the Western Cape said on Friday that it was forced to cut power to the Dube area after the electrocution of a three-year-old earlier this week.

The toddler died on Wednesday after being electrocuted due to an illegal power connection.

The municipality said the little girl had "touched a wire running from a homemade ‘electricity distribution box’ which was put together in an illegal, primitive and unsafe way".

Following this incident, the municipality was forced to switch off the power supply as it inspected the area for other illegal connections.

"According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the municipality has a responsibility to maintain a safe electrical network and may therefore not reinstate power unless all illegal connections on the line have been cleared.

"This is obviously especially frustrating to paying households on these lines and we have extended our apologies to them and have explained the situation,” said the municipality’s acting director of electrotechnical services, Paul Gerber.

"When necessary, the municipality appoints contractors to remove illegal connections and power is restored once all lines have been inspected and confirmed clear of any illegal connections," he added.

The child was the fourth person to die from an illegal electricity connection in the area since the start of the year. The three other victims include two adults and another child.

Gerber extended condolences to the child’s family and called for communities to stay away from illegal electricity connections.

"We recognise that people want electricity, but there are good reasons why procedures of supply must be followed. Stealing electricity is very dangerous for everyone – not just for the ones making connections, but for every person and animal within the illegal connection zone," he said.  

"Children are especially vulnerable as they are curious and likely to explore and dig out electricity lines or try to open up rigged boxes and interesting-looking wires," he added.

The municipality investigated the incident and submitted a report to the labour department. An inquest docket was also opened with the police.

"The municipality, Eskom and the Western Cape government continue to educate and raise awareness regarding the dangers of illegal connections and other unsafe electricity-related practices.

"We appeal to residents to put the safety of the lives of their loved ones first and to discourage others from such dangerous practices. Entire communities can be affected by just one illegal connection. Everyone in an illegal connection zone is unsafe, for multiple  reasons," Gerber said.

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