A Johannesburg man faces prison after being caught selling illegal prepaid electricity vouchers, aka ghost vending.
The ghost vendor suspect was arrested in Kagiso township west of Johannesburg, where it is believed he operated. In a joint operation, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Hawks searched the suspect’s residence and found 598 illegal prepaid vouchers as well as R8 500 in cash. The suspect and the evidence were handed over to the Kagiso SAPS where a case of fraud was opened.
The arrest took place while another major case involving ghost vending was underway at the Palm Ridge Regional Court, also in Johannesburg. The four accused from this latter case now face a lengthy prison sentence after they were found guilty on over 16 000 counts related to electricity theft. Sentencing in this case commences on 13 February.
“The buying and selling of illegal prepaid electricity vouchers is a crime that has taken root in many parts of the country,” said Dileep John, Eskom’s Head of Operation Khanyisa, the national campaign aimed at fighting electricity theft.
“Many might think it’s a victimless crime, only affecting Eskom. But this is not the case. The loss of revenue suffered by Eskom due to this crime contributes to the need for the national power utility to increase the tariffs charged to paying customers. The price for ghost vending is, therefore, paid by society as a whole,” John explained.
“So it is important that everyone helps kill the market for ghost vendors by refusing to buy illegal electricity vouchers and reporting suspected ghost vendors to Operation Khanyisa by sending anonymous tip-offs via SMS to 32211 (R1/SMS),” he added.