Major electricity theft syndicate exposed

Eight farmers appeared as state witnesses in the Lydenburg Magistrate Court in Mpumalanga on Monday, 24 March, in a major electricity theft case.

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The farmers gave evidence against Mondo Viljoen, who is alleged to be part of a syndicate that provides electricity theft services, including meter tampering and bypassing. Viljoen faces 37 charges of damage to property, fraud and theft, stemming from alleged tampering with power meters on a number of farms across the country and at a hotel in Limpopo.

One of the witnesses, Anton Bezuidenhout, told the court how he received an unsolicited visit from Viljoen, who then proceeded to tell him how he could reduce his electricity bill by up to 30% for a fee of R1 500. After the tampering was discovered, Bezuidenhout was fined R200 000.

The hearing continues on 28 March.

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In an unrelated incident, six farmers appeared before the Jan Kempdorp Magistrate Court in the Northern Cape last year on charges related to electricity theft. They face seven charges of malicious damage to property, and 262 charges of fraud, alternatively theft. The total value of the fraud charges amounts to R388 552. This case is still on-going.

According to Operation Khanyisa, the Eskom-led campaign aimed at combating electricity theft, two-thirds of the billions of rand worth of energy lost every year in SA are from the business, industry and agriculture sectors.

* Electricity theft can be reported at 32211.