Bothaville farmer sentenced to 12 years for fraud

A Bothaville farmer, Gerhard Ferreira, was found guilty of fraud and malicious damage to Eskom property.

He has been sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment.

He was convicted and sentenced in the Kroonstad Regional Court on 31 July.

Ferreira pleaded guilty to 14 charges of fraud and ten charges of malicious damage to Eskom property during meter tampering.

The accused was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years on the condition that he reimburses Eskom with R921 830,88 worth of losses incurred by the company, payable by 31 December 2020.

Charges relate to tampering with Eskom meters on farms in the Bothaville and Viljoenskroon region. Ferreira was arrested on 26 May in connection with the crime.

Ferreira had offered to “calibrate meters” for customers at a fee. Following a tip-off, Eskom approached the Hawks who investigated the matter and eventually caught Ferreira red-handed.

Customers who had paid Ferreira for his illegal services did not escape, as they were also charged with tampering and fined a total of R229 000.

Eskom confirmed in a media statement that the illegal work was done at farms around Bothaville and Viljoenskroon.

The power utility has strongly warned its customers to not allow unauthorised people to do electricity meter work and installation.

In addition, Eskom stated it will never ask for payments to be made into bank accounts other than the one specified on the customers’ official Eskom bill.

The public is requested to report illegal activities by calling Eskom’s Fraud Hotline on 080-011-2722 and theft via an anonymous SMS, which can be sent to 32211 (R1/SMS).

The power utility has strongly warned its customers to not allow unauthorised people to do electricity meter work and installation.