Dangerous and illegal electricity connections are claiming the lives of children in Selosesha, ThabaNchu in the Free State
Many community members continue to connect electricity illegally; ignoring warnings that electricity is extremely powerful and can be deadly if not treated with care. This results in young children making direct contact with live electricity connections – leading to deaths and serious injuries.
“Thieves who connect illegally are placing children’s lives in danger in Selosesha. In one incident a service cable was cut off by thieves, and they left it hanging low and still alive. As a result, a child made contact with the low hanging cable and was badly electrocuted. Incidents of theft like these have dire consequences as they expose children to great risk,” says Lindi Mthombeni, General Manager of Eskom in the Free State.
Since 2012, Selosesha has experienced 5 injuries and 2 electricity-related fatalities. While our statistics show that the number of reported deaths and injuries has decreased over the past five years, the tendency is not to report incidents. Community members are afraid that Eskom will disconnect the illegal connections when they go to investigate an incident. Low voltage electrical systems and available current in regular homes have enough power to cause fatal injuries.
“Young children in our community are making contact with live wires inside and outside the home. These children are often surrounded by these dangerous connections and are unaware of the live flow of electricity around them. Electricity connections that are made illegally are exposed and alive and have no protection. When these make contact with corrugated iron, steel roofs and wires, even the slightest contact can electrocute or kill a child – as we have seen in Selosesha,” says Mthombeni.
In a recent audit in ThabaNchu, 20 home owners were found to have tampered with their electricity meters. This not only impacts on Eskom’s revenue, but also poses dangers as the protection mechanisms are disabled and the meter will not pick up any electrical faults in the home.
“Eskom is committed to reducing these incidents through disconnecting these dangerous illegal connections and educating communities on these dangers. While our disconnection procedure involves assessing the situation and including the local police and stakeholders in the process, our first call is for illegal connections to end thereby saving innocent lives,” says Mthombeni.
Eskom wants members of the public to report any unsafe conditions or illegal connections they come across by calling 08600 ESKOM (37566), and technical officials will attend to it as a matter of urgency.
article by Nicholas Munzhedzi