The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, on 22 May 2017, sentenced four members of an electricity theft syndicate to a combined 42 years in prison.
The syndicate were found guilty on 16,452 counts related to electricity theft.
Presiding Judge Leonie Windell sentenced the kingpin of the syndicate to serve 18 years in prison for managing a criminal enterprise, 12 years for participating in a criminal enterprise in the form of racketeering, 10 years for the theft of a prepaid electricity credit dispensing machine belonging to Eskom and 10 years for numerous counts of theft related to the illegal sale of electricity.
The son of the kingpin was found guilty of participating in a criminal enterprise, theft of an Eskom credit dispensing machine and numerous counts of electricity theft – resulting in a sentence of an effective 12 years in prison.
The other co-accused in the case, who were “runners” for the syndicate and responsible for recruiting customers, were found guilty of participating in a criminal enterprise and electricity theft. They were each sentenced to an effective six years in prison.
State prosecutor Advocate Jacob Serepo also launched an application for the court to review how the accused might have benefited financially from their illegal activities.
If the court finds that the accused benefited from their crimes, they could face asset forfeiture, including property and vehicles.
The accused were found guilty in December 2016 after a lengthy trial that started in 2012. Their bail was revoked after the court ruled against them, ensuring they remained in police custody until they were sentenced.
Eskom said that it loses approximately R4 billion each year due to electricity theft in its various forms including ghost vending, meter tampering and bypassing and illegal connections.