Eskom insists that power cuts that some parts of Joburg experienced over the last couple of days, were not due to loadshedding, but rather to vast number of people stealing electricity.
It says the outages were caused by people connecting to the grid illegally, which causes an overload in supply.
“The network overloads because too many people are trying to use a network which is designed for one household per stand. Also, customers who are not paying for their electricity tend to be wasteful in the way they use it,” Eskom said in a statement.
It explained that it installs fuses or circuit breakers that switch off when the load gets to dangerous levels, thus preventing the transformer from exploding. But “sometimes residents bypass these safety features and the transformer does explode. Not only is this dangerous, but these transformers may take hours or days to repair.”
In a statement, Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown criticised people for connecting illegally.
“Illegal connections and electricity theft overstretch our resources slowing down Eskom and the municipalities’ service delivery to legal power users. This also includes overloading call centres where agents handle over a thousand calls every 30 minutes,” she said.
Brown added: “It is unacceptable that people are still continuing with illegal connections, while Government has a free basic electricity policy to protect the indigent from high electricity prices. These illegal connections are putting residents and especially children at risk of being electrocuted.”
The affected areas include: Soweto, Emfuleni, Katlehong, Bophelong, Kagiso and Cosmo City.
Power to most of the areas have been restored.
“Eskom teams have worked tirelessly over the past few days to restore power to the affected areas. We appeal to all our communities and customers to reduce their electricity consumption especially during peak periods (06h00 and 08h00, 17h00 and 20h00) in order to ease pressure on the power system,” it said.[Image – CC by 2.0/Peter Nijenhuis]