Illegal connections put strain on grid

Several illegal connections hanging over one of the busiest streets in IY. The connections run from informal structures down to the main power supply for the area.

Power cuts caused by illegal electricity connections continue to plague Imizamo Yethu.

The township had no power for a few hours on Thursday last week.

Siyamthanda Mehlo, who had spent the last of his income on meat, was fuming when the power went off.

“We only had that to eat until I get paid again. My meat was off and I wasted my money. This is getting very frustrating now because we are following the rules, but others are not and it’s costing us money we don’t have.”

He had been forced to take a loan from a friend to replace the food, he said.

Mr Mehlo said he had had to replace his fridge earlier in the year and he suspects the repeated power outages caused its demise.

Miriam Khunela has four children and works part-time at an office block in town, cleaning desks and kitchens.

“Everytime the power goes out, something breaks or I end up losing my food in the fridge,” she said.

“You see these guys all the time adding more and more connections, not realising how dangerous it is and how they are affecting our lives too.

“I don’t want to sound heartless, and I understand why most of them are doing it, but the City is helping us and then there are guys helping themselves to the electricity.”

Earlier this year, the City warned that illegal connections in the township threatened the main power grid (“Illegal connections”, Sentinel News, April 24).

In one instance, City technicians found someone had replaced the locks on the gates to the substation.

“This would indicate that some person or persons have ‘cornered the market’ with illegal supply in the area and are likely charging fellow residents for by-passes or connections. Tampering with public infrastructure for any reason, especially illegal gain, must be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” ward councillor Roberto Quintas said at the time.

The City was installing legal electricity connections and meters in the community, but those tampering with the power supply set that work back, he said.

* Residents can report illegal activity to 107, 021 480 7700 or 0860 103 089.