- During August, Eskom annually observes Electricity Safety Month to place public safety at the top of its priority list.
- To this end, Eskom is committed to fostering a culture of responsible electricity use to safeguard the interests of every individual in South Africa.
“No one should underestimate the power of electricity. It is a powerful and essential resource, but it can be dangerous if not respected or handled correctly. In addition to our year-long education and awareness initiatives, during August extra effort and focus is made to provide information to communities on how to identify unsafe electricity situations and what people should do when faced with unsafe electrical connections” says the Senior Manager for Occupational Health and Safety at Eskom, Miranda Moahlodi.
One such example of an unsafe electrical hazard is illegal connections. These electrical connections are not only considered energy theft but are extremely dangerous. The rise of illegal connections impacts Eskom by overpowering the electrical system. It also poses life-threatening consequences to innocent individuals, families, and the community, as well as livestock and wildlife that encounters the connection. These connections are usually haphazardly executed, causing fires, electrocutions, and power outages, and even death, in worst-case scenarios.
This risk has also coincided with the rise in criminal activities such as damaging and vandalising infrastructure and theft of electricity cables. Vandalism of infrastructure is a serious problem that leads to power outages and puts people’s lives at risk. Reporting these unlawful activities can ensure that our power grids remain secure and reliable. “Electricity Safety Month is an important time to draw attention to the significance of electrical safety,” she says.
According to Moahlodi, ,15 people have during this year lost their lives as a result of contact with electricity, with a further 147 people suffering electricity-related injuries. Three provinces namely, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo have reported the most cases. Eskom highlights the urgent need for action as these figures underscore the pressing need to collaborate and collectively address this issue with the communities.
“Communities also feel the need to protect the connections that are made illegally,” says Moahlodi. As a result, Eskom employees fear removing these illegal connections due to attacks from communities. Eskom strongly believes that when communities work with us, we can effectively tackle the problem of illegal electricity connections. By collaborating with residents, we aim to create a shared sense of responsibility and “Sinobuntu” in caring about each other’s safety,” says Moahlodi.
Eskom runs public safety programmes across the country throughout the year, using various communication methods, aimed at educating the public on the safe use of electricity and the dangers of illegal connections. We want South Africans to understand that these can lead to the injury or death of someone close to them – and most importantly that this tragedy is avoidable.
Eskom invites every citizen to be part of the solution. By using electricity responsibly, reporting illegal connections to Eskom on 08600 37566 (ESKOM) or sending an SMS to the Eskom Crime Line on 32211, and spreading awareness, we can together create safer communities.
Members of the public are urged to keep an eye on Eskom’s official social media pages and website for more information.