JOHANNESBURG – Eskom has warned that it has intensified its efforts to tackle electricity theft affecting small businesses by focusing on unscrupulous contractors responsible for illegal connections.

Contrary to the commonly held belief that electricity theft only takes place in residential areas, this crime is also prevalent in the commercial sector,” Eskom’s head of Operation Khanyisa, Dileep John said in a statement at the weekend.

Small businesses not only have to contend with other problems such as access to finance, they are also battling electricity theft. When they are without electricity, small businesses sometimes become tempted to steal electricity themselves, said John.

In Mankweng in Limpopo, the owner of a popular pizza franchise appeared in the Mankweng Magistrate’s Court after being disconnected by Eskom for continuing to receive power through an illegal connection.

In another incident, a tavern owner was fined and his power disconnected after it emerged that he had been connecting illegally since 2011.

Since the launch of Operation Khanyisa – a national campaign aimed at promoting the legal, safe, and efficient use of electricity – police have arrested 50 electricity theft suspects. At least 26 cases are already being heard at various courts.

“We are now intensifying our focus on the business community and the unscrupulous contractors responsible for illegal connections in this sector,” John said.

In a developing country such as ours where unemployment levels are high, entrepreneurship should be encouraged and small business supported, not brought to their knees owing to electricity theft. We continue to urge people to keep on reporting electricity theft anonymously to Crime Line at 32211 (R1/SMS),” said John.

– African News Agency

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