Eskom senior manager Daphney Mokwena says that the power utility will look at ‘naming and shaming’ customers who bypass its meter systems.
Mokwena told 702 that Eskom recently performed an audit in Johannesburg’s upmarket Waterfall Estate which showed that some residents had connected to its electricity network illegally.
“Most of our customers in Waterfall are compliant, however, today we picked up a few (cases) where customers have illegally bypassed their meters,” she said.
“Temporary supply for construction is also being given without Eskom being involved.”
Mokwena said that this is stealing, and that residents are typically disconnected if they are found to have used illegal connections multiple times and are repeat offenders.
She said that because estates have smart meters it is possible to pick up unusually low consumption over the course of a month. However, Mokwena said that some property developers deliberately connect these meters illegally or fail to register meters during construction.
“Like any creditor, we do hand over to a debt collector for non-payment. But naming and shaming is something that we still need to work on.”
She said that customers that fail to make payments on time are unlikely to be publicly named – as opposed to those who are actively stealing from the Eskom grid through illegal connections.
“This is something that we can start working on and acting on,” Mokwena said.
Data published by Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan at the start of November shows that the total debt owed by municipalities to Eskom as at 31 July is R46.1 billion – of which R31 billion is overdue debt.
Gordhan said that Eskom has implemented several interventions to collect the outstanding debt including:
- increasing the payment days from 15 to 30 days for all non-metropolitan municipalities, reduced the interest rate on arrears, and applies payments to capital first before interest;
- Offering payment plans as a means to make the payment of the arrear debt more affordable over a period of time;
- Direct engagement with defaulting municipalities, issuing contract breach notices with the intention of encouraging a remedy of the breach, interruption of supply, and also litigating by issuing summons for payment;
- Legal pursuance of debt which also extends to the attachment of assets and bank accounts of certain municipalities.