City of Tshwane electricity

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Four arrests in clampdown on illegal electricity vendors

Eskom and Hawks say they are working to trace all those who illegally sell and buy cut-price prepaid electricity. Strong action promised.

City of Tshwane electricity

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Four people who allegedly illegally sold Eskom prepaid electricity at low prices using unauthorised vending machines have been arrested in a joint operation by the Hawks and Eskom security personnel.

Three suspects were arrested in Tweefontein and Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga, while another suspect was arrested in King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape. All were taken into custody on Thursday and appeared in court yesterday.  

“The suspects were found in possession of electricity customer slips, credit vouchers and meter numbers. The suspects used offline credit dispensing units and fraudulently and unlawfully issued Eskom electricity vouchers, at a very low price, to members of the public,” Eskom said in a statement.

Undercover operation by Hawks

The utility added that these crimes are on the increase in South Africa.

In its own statement, the Hawks said the Mpumalanga trio were arrested in the wake of an investigation that begun in 2019 when a whistleblower alerted the Hawks to a syndicate that was dispensing prepaid electricity vouchers at a very low price using unauthorized vending machines.

“The team went undercover and monitored transactions with the unsuspecting targets, thereby building a watertight case against them,” Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said.

“Some of the items confiscated during the arrests include diaries with the lists of clients, meter numbers of clients who appear to be prepared to buy from the suspects instead of legitimate places of sale, and various [pieces of] electronic equipment.

Curbing illegal electricity vending

According to Eskom, it is intensifying its campaign to curb illegal electricity vending and is tracing those responsible.

“Those who benefit from this theft of electricity and money laundering shall have their assets attached by the Asset Forfeiture Unit,” said Advocate Karen Pillay, Eskom’s Acting General Manager for Security.

“Consumers who buy electricity from illegal vendors, thereby robbing Eskom and the people of South Africa of much needed revenue, will also be prosecuted when caught, and will have their illegal credits cleared and electricity supply terminated,” Pillay warned.