city power

City Power as a whole is sitting with around R10 billion debt from non-paying customers. Image: Supplied

Wealthy Johannesburg residents are ‘stealing’ electricity from the grid – City Power

According to City Power, a routine inspection in ‘affluent’ Johannesburg suburbs has revealed that residents are freeloading from the grid.

city power

City Power as a whole is sitting with around R10 billion debt from non-paying customers. Image: Supplied

City of Johannesburg’s City Power is cracking down on “affluent” individuals and businesses it says are bypassing their smart prepaid meters to steal electricity from the City’s grid.

The power utility alleges that over 10 000 meters in affluent areas and properties belonging to businesses had not been vending for more than three months.

City Power has uncovered the theft through meter audits and the resetting and installation of smart prepaid meters.

In response, the utility converted these “non-vending” smart meters to post-paid meters.

“City Power has invested millions in installing smart meters across Johannesburg and condemns this behaviour by customers using non-vending meters to enjoy free electricity,” said City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena.

The price of non-paying customers

City Power says it is already sitting with approximately R10 billion of debt due to non-paying customers.

Mangena emphasised that aside from being illegal, tampering with electrical equipment can be hazardous, while it also prevents the utility from providing stable power and collecting revenue.

“We urge residents to desist from tampering with our electricity infrastructure by bypassing meters as this is not only a criminal offence but may lead to the circuit malfunctioning in the area,” the City said.

“As a result of a circuit malfunction, customers may start experiencing power surges and equipment shocking them in their homes, which may cause fires, serious injuries, or even fatalities.”

Going forward, customers who have not vended for over three months and are found to have bypassed their meters will have the devices automatically switched to post-paid meters by City Power’s authorised technicians, the utility warned.

Technicians will visit each property to replace the meters, and City Power has urged customers to grant them access. If residents aren’t available, technicians will leave a “no access” letter at the premises. The letter will include information about how to make the conversion.

Those who refuse access to technicians will be handled by the City Power disconnection team, ensuring their illegal power supply is cut off.

How City Power plans to recover losses

Once guilty customers are converted to post-paid meters, City Power will initiate a revenue recovery process from the date the meters stopped vending, writes BusinessTech.

Thus, if a customer has bypassed their pre-paid meter and not vended for 12 months, the utility will seek to recover the revenue for that period.

“Thereafter, the newly-installed meters will ensure accurate billing and assist us in maintaining reliable electricity in all areas of supply as well as with monitoring and controlling the load during the implementation of higher stages of load-shedding,” the City added.