South Africa: Customers in wealthy Johannesburg suburbs stealing power from the grid, says City Power

South Africa: Customers in wealthy Johannesburg suburbs stealing power from the grid, says City Power
/ bne IntelliNews
By Elena Kachkova in Johannesburg June 10, 2024

City Power, a power utility fully-owned by the City of Johannesburg metropolitan municipality in South Africa, has identified “affluent” customers and businesses who are bypassing their smart prepaid meters to steal electricity from the national grid.

During a routine inspection, City Power found that over 10,000 meters in upmarket areas have not been vending for over three months. The utility has decided to convert all of those found guilty into post-paid customers, the local B2B journal Energize reports.

“City Power has spent millions of rands on installing smart meters across Johannesburg and deplores this behaviour by customers who are sitting with non-vending meters only so that they can enjoy free electricity,” said City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena.

According to Mangena, customers who tamper with electrical equipment could cause a network overload and prolonged power outages, leading to dangerous power surges, which could cause fires, serious injuries and fatalities. Also, the theft of electricity was a criminal offence, he said.

Customers who have not been vending for over three months will have their meters automatically converted to post-paid meters by City Power’s authorised technicians. Post-paid meters allow for monthly billings and credit-based payments, while prepaid meters ensure upfront payment but the payment plans are usually cheaper.

Furthermore, customers who refuse technicians access to their premises will be handled by the City Power disconnection team who will ensure that their illegal supply of power is disconnected.

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