Trio arrested for theft of Eskom transformers worth R500,000
Three man were nabbed by police in Diepsloot in the north of Johannesburg for the alleged theft of ten Eskom transformers worth nearly R500,000, the power utility said on Friday.
The trio was arrested after security personnel, acting on a tip-off, discovered that an illegal construction, just a kilometre away from 11kV overhead power lines, was supplying informal settlements in the area.
“These arrests followed an extensive investigation through the collaboration of Eskom and the SAPS. This is part of an ongoing sting operation as one of the multipronged approaches to deal with any criminality that seeks to undermine Eskom’s efforts to supply electricity,” said Motlhabane Ramashi, Eskom's senior manager for maintenance and operations in Gauteng.
The group was also charged with tampering with the network infrastructure in Diepsloot Ext 13, where cables and poles suspected to belong to City Power were recovered at the scene.
Ramashi said the arrests come as the entity recently implemented a rotational load reduction initiative in certain areas which had been regularly overloaded, and Diepsloot was one of the areas.
“The load reductions are aimed at protecting Eskom’s assets from repeated failure and explosions, as well as curbing the rising costs that are a result of frequent equipment failures,” said Ramashi.
The utility said there was an exponential increase in energy demand during peak hours in the mornings and evenings due to the network overloads, which caused failure of equipment and explosions.
He said these had been as a result of illegal connections, meter bypasses and tampering with the electricity infrastructure in areas with high-population density and multiple and/or backyard dwellings.
“We would like to commend members of the public for their active citizenry by taking a stand against illegal activities that interfere with the security of supply and also compromise public safety due to exposure to unprotected electricity infrastructure. Eskom is determined to safeguard and protects its assets during the lockdown period to ensure provision of service to residents and other essential services,” added Ramashi.