Electricity Theft in South Africa: Examining the Need to Clarify the Offence and Pursue Private Prosecution?
Keywords:Electricity theft, criminalise electricity theft, empower Eskom, institute prosecutions
Electricity theft is one of the challenges with which South African government-owned power-distribution company Eskom is grappling. Eskom has lost billions of rands in annual revenue owing to electricity theft. Different strategies are in place to combat electricity theft. However, in South Africa, electricity theft is not a statutory offence. This contrasts with the approach adopted in countries such as China, Canada, India, Australia and New Zealand, where legislation provides for such an offence. Although electricity theft is not a statutory offence, prosecutors would like electricity thieves to be punished. In this context, there are conflicting High Court decisions on whether electricity theft is a common-law offence or indeed an offence at all. The purposes of this article are: to highlight the problem of electricity theft in South Africa and the conflicting jurisprudence from the High Court on whether electricity theft is an offence; to recommend that Parliament amend legislation to criminalise electricity theft specifically; and also to empower Eskom to institute prosecutions against those who are alleged to have stolen electricity.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Jamil Ddamulira Mujuzi
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