The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Wednesday called for a thorough investigation and “stern action against all those businesses‚ which are found to have tampered with their electricity connections to avoid paying large amounts on their electricity bills
The call comes after Eskom revealed through its annual audits that more than 52% of all electricity bridging was done by businesses‚ including mining companies.
“It is criminal for mining companies to be retrenching people using electricity tariff hikes and the cost of doing business as an excuse‚ while they are also involved in electricity theft. For a long time electricity theft is treated as an act of poor people and vandals‚ when it’s actually big business that is stealing from the poor. Their blatant and criminal acts severely impact on government’s ability to deliver electricity and other badly needed services‚” Cosatu said.
The trade federation said it expected law enforcement agencies to make use of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act by imposing tougher sanctions and bail conditions on all vandals involved in this saga.
“We demand that all managers and executives of the implicated companies be detained and be forced to apply for bail in court like all criminals. We also expect them to be given mandatory sentence periods if convicted‚ and be treated like the common criminals that they are.
“This also vindicates Cosatu for insisting that Eskom’s challenges are as a result of their inefficiencies. Their failure over a period of time‚ to maintain their plants and stop electricity theft is what is central to the Eskom crisis. It is also self serving for big business organisations to support calls for the privatisation of Eskom‚ when they are the ones responsible for its failures through electricity theft.
“This also proves that as Cosatu‚ we were right‚ when we said that by privatising Eskom‚ government will be literally abandoning the poor and leaving them at the mercy of the market forces.
“By stealing electricity these companies have exposed the immorality and callousness of big business‚ and proved that they will do anything‚ including breaking the law‚ to maximise their profits.
“We cannot afford to have our electricity supply left at the hands of such reckless and dishonest entities and their managers.