Hundreds flee homes as cops nab alleged electricity thieves

Mbombela - More than 300 villagers living adjacent to the R1.2bn Mbombela stadium in Mpumalanga fled their houses after 10 of their neighbours were arrested for illegally connecting electricity to their homes.

The suspects, believed to have illegally connected electricity with 340 of their neighbours in Mataffin outside Mbombela, were arrested on Wednesday.

"During the police and Eskom operation in Mataffin, 350 houses were found to have illegal connections. All the connections were disconnected and 10 suspects were arrested, but 340 people left their houses after they saw police conducting the operation," said Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Colonel Leonard Hlathi, on Thursday.

Hlathi added that approximately 80 tonnes of cables were confiscated during the raid.

He urged community members to stop making illegal connections. "We call on the community to stop connecting electricity illegally as it poses danger to people's lives and adversely affects the economy," he said.

Eskom spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, warned that illegal connections can often lead to electrocution and power outages.

"Where they are detected, we remove them because they do not only pose a revenue loss risk to Eskom, but they are also a safety hazard to the community living in that area. It also causes overloading of the network, which results in unplanned outages, which affects the smooth operating of the robots as well as life sustaining equipment at hospitals," Phasiwe said.
The suspects will appear in the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court on Friday to face various charges including malicious damage to property.