by MTHULISI SIBANDA in Thaba Nchu, Free State
THABA NCHU, (CAJ News) – AT least three people have been killed and four others injured over the past year as a result of illegal and unsafe electricity connections in the Free State Province.
The statistics indicate the worst toll in the past four years.
Officials revealed the figures at a public safety media tour of the province, which power utility, Eskom, organised as part of countrywide efforts to promote legal and safe usage of electricity.
The aforementioned deaths represent the first time the Free State has suffered deaths from outlawed connection in four years.
The last deaths were recorded in the 2013/2014 period when eight people lost their lives. Eleven others were injured.
In the previous reporting period, seven people were killed and eleven again injured.
The 2016/17 period was the safest with two injuries and no deaths.
In total, 18 people have been killed and 34 injured owing to illegal power connections in the province since 2012/2013.
Children are the most vulnerable to the scourge, with Selosesha in the Thaba Nchu area, among the worst affected.
Since 2012, two minors have been fatally electrocuted in Selosesha. Five other people have been injured.
“Thieves who connect illegally are placing children’s lives in danger,” says Lindi Mthombeni, General Manager of Eskom in the Free State.
She mentions an incident where thieves cut off a service cable and left it hanging low and alive.
As a result, a child made contact with the low-hanging cable and was electrocuted.
“Incidents of theft like these have dire consequences as they expose children to great risk,” Mthombeni adds.