Agri SA has strongly condemned unlawful tampering and interference with all Eskom infrastructure on farms, according to Nicol Jansen, chairperson of the organisation’s centre of excellence for economics and trade.
This followed the outcome of a court case in which a Free State farmer was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for interfering with an Eskom electricity meter allocated to his farm.
Willem Venter of Petrusburg faced four counts of malicious damage to property in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, of which he was found guilty.
Following a plea-bargain agreement he was ordered by the Petrusburg Magistrate’s Court to pay Eskom back the R750 000 that was lost through his actions.
The five-year prison term was suspended for five years on condition that he was not found guilty of any similar offences during this period.
Jansen called on landowners to ensure that all power connections on farms were installed by electrical contractors accredited with official accreditation bodies to ensure full legal compliance.
He pointed out that it was the responsibility of farmers and landowners to ensure the soundness of all Eskom connections.
“That is why it is so important to make use of accredited electrical contractors. Such contractors have the authority to issue certificates of compliance in terms of Eskom requirements. A valid compliance certificate is vital,” he added.
Jansen said, however, the fact that Eskom refused to attend to connectivity problems outside of office hours posed serious challenges for primary agricultural producers, especially for irrigation farmers.
The effect thereof was that farmers were often forced to irrigate during peak hours when electricity was markedly more expensive.
“It is much more economical to irrigate between 7pm and 6am at reduced tariffs, However, should a problem occur during this period, the irrigation needs to be done the next day at vastly increased costs. This often causes farmers to try and rectify the problems themselves,” Jansen added.