George boy, 4, killed by ‘illegal’ electricity connection

Illegal connections (Supplied)

Illegal connections (Supplied)

Supplied by George Municipality

  • A 4-year-old boy died in George after touching a fence powered by an illegal electrical connection.
  • The boy’s mom was also electrocuted the next day while hanging washing.
  • A programme to warn people of the dangers of illegal connections was held in the area two days before the tragedy. 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that the child was a girl. The municipal officials were misinformed and apologise for the error. The story has since been updated to reflect that the victim is a boy.

A little boy playing outside his house was killed when he touched a fence powered by a neighbour’s alleged illegal electricity connection in George, the municipality said on Tuesday.

George Mayor Leon van Wyk said the child was electrocuted while playing at home in Thembalethu. His mother was electrocuted the following day while hanging up washing, but she survived.

“His future has been stolen from her,” said Van Wyk, imploring residents to report illegal connections.

READ | Protest over cutting off of illegal electricity connections in Alexandra turns deadly

According to Van Wyk, the municipality was only notified on Sunday after both incidents.

“The municipal electro-technical department confirms that the energised fence [which electrocuted] the child…  [had] an illegal connection, and which was safely removed.”

The municipality told News24 a team had been in the area on Thursday, 20 January, and had removed illegal connections, but the wires were reconnected after they had left.

The house of the grieving family is understood to have a legal electrical connection, but the illegal connections run along their boundary to an informal settlement.

Van Wyk said: 

We cannot overemphasise the dangers attached to illegal connections. Any kind of electricity ‘tapping’, no matter how small or innocent-looking, is illegal and dangerous and can cause much more trouble than you know.

He said the risk of serious injury was higher for children because of their low weight, and illegal connections not having earth leakage protection.

“We ask that law-abiding citizens take it upon themselves to report illegal connection activities to the SA Police Service as soon as they see them taking place,” said Van Wyk.

Western Cape police spokesperson Sergeant Christopher Spies said an inquest docket had been opened to investigate what had led to the toddler’s death, and a post-mortem had already been conducted.

READ | Concern as residents suffer electric shocks due illegal connections in Pietermaritzburg’s Copesville

Electricity connections are considered illegal when connected to the George municipal network without its permission.

Typically, illegal connections involve wires that are connected to a mini-substation or overhead pole, and other illegal electrification schemes include meter tampering and bypassing.

The municipality said illegal connections should be reported to 044 803 9222 or 044 801 9222 or after hours on 044 801 6300.

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