Stern warning against illegal connections after another child dies

The George Municipality has reiterated its ongoing warnings against illegal electricity connections following the death of a three-year-old girl in Dube Village, Thembalethu on Wednesday (16 October).

The death is the fourth in the area in the past year in which people, two of them children, were shocked as a direct result of illegal connections.

George Municipality Acting Director Electrotechnical Services, Paul Gerber, extended condolences to the loved ones of the deceased and appealed to all communities to safeguard their own people and children by not making illegal connections and using other dangerous electricity-related practices. “We recognise that people want electricity, but there are good reasons why procedures of supply must be followed.

“Stealing electricity is very dangerous for everyone – not just for the ones making connections, but for every person and animal within the illegal connection zone. Children are especially vulnerable as they are curious and likely to explore and dig out electricity lines or try to open up rigged boxes and interesting-looking wires,” said Mr Gerber.

In Wednesday’s incident the three-year-old girl had touched a wire running from a homemade ‘electricity distribution box’ which was put together in an illegal, primitive and unsafe way. The George Municipality has investigated the incident in line with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) and has submitted a report to the Department of Labour. The SAPS has opened an inquest docket for a general inquiry into the death.

“As a result of the incident, a large part of the greater electricity network that supplies the area had to be switched off and inspected for other illegal connections. According to the OHS Act, the municipality has a responsibility to maintain a safe electrical network and may therefore not reinstate power unless all illegal connections on the line have been cleared. This is obviously especially frustrating to paying households on these lines and we have extended our apologies to them and have explained the situation. When necessary, the municipality appoints contractors to remove illegal connections and power is restored once all lines have been inspected and confirmed clear of any illegal connections.

“The municipality, ESKOM and the Western Cape Government continue to educate and raise awareness regarding the dangers of illegal connections and other unsafe electricity-related practices. We appeal to residents to put the safety of the lives of their loved ones first and to discourage others from such dangerous practices. Entire communities can be affected by just one illegal connection. Everyone in an illegal connection zone is unsafe, for a multiple of reasons,” said Mr Gerber.

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