“A collective sense of ownership is one of the most important elements of community building.
“We at Eskom believe that this should be a factor when communities think of the infrastructure we use to distribute electricity. It is for our collective benefit and should be valued accordingly,” said Miranda Moahlodi, senior manager for health and safety at Eskom.
Vandalism of Eskom infrastructure causes unplanned power outages – an inconvenience that affects communities for potentially prolonged periods, depending on the severity of the damage and availability of materials.
A noticeable trend on the rise is the theft of pylon steel members, coupled with sand mining around pylons as well as the siphoning of oil from transformers – all of which cause serious safety hazards.
Transformers from which oil has been siphoned overheat and explode, causing power outages in large areas as well as fatalities.
Theft of the metal beams that are part of electricity pylons, also known as pylon members, results in the entire tower being compromised.
With the recent heavy rains, Eskom received numerous reports of cases where weakened towers were near collapse and live high-voltage lines (carrying thousands of volts) could have caused serious harm to any person or animal coming in contact with them. Furthermore, these lines service nearby towns and when damaged, businesses, mines and communities are all without power as a result of the theft.
Despite the enormous danger that perpetrators face, these illegal acts continue to persevere.
“Recently we have picked up cases in Mpumalanga of people throwing metal chains and wires onto powerlines. These metal objects cause flashovers on the lines which then trip and lead to power outages. We ask that people please never throw anything onto powerlines as they could also endanger themselves if electricity flows down these metal objects to them. In fact, there have been cases of people being seriously injured or even killed due to metal objects hanging from power lines,” Moahlodi said.
“Communities need to be vigilant and report such behaviour – not excuse it as being a means of survival for some, while many suffer.”
Vandalism adds additional strain to Eskom’s ability to provide electricity adequately.
“We urge communities to take ownership of all electrical installations in their areas and stay vigilant. Report incidents to Eskom on 0800-11-27-22 and to the local municipalities,” Moahlodi concluded.