Man Fined K150,000 for Illegal Electricity Connection: ESCOM Limited Says Punishment Unsatisfactory

By Cosmas Kaunga, ESCOM Outreach Officer

Mzimba Magistrate’s Court has convicted and slapped Matthews Mazi with a K150,000 fine over illegal electricity connection to Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) Limited network.

The punishment for Mazi has since prompted a reaction from ESCOM Limited Director of Legal Affairs and Company Secretary (DLACS), counsel Sally Mtambo, who says the fine cannot deter would-be offenders.

Earlier, Jenda Police Public Relations Officer, Macfarlen Mseteka, said the court fined the 34-year Mazi when he appeared before the court on December 18 2023.

Mseteka said the convict illegally connected electricity to his house at Jenda Trading Centre in the district soon after ESCOM Limited officers had disconnected it to pave the way for the clearing of a fault.

“This did not go down well with him and he made his own connection to the house using his own wires direct from the pole, bypassing the meter and supplying every building around the compound unmetered, including outside toilets, which are not in a state of being connected to electricity,” he said.

ESCOM Limited was eventually tipped off about the illegal connection and its officers reported the matter to Mzimba police who arrested Mazi on November 28 2023 for the offence.

“Mazi pleaded guilty to the offence when he appeared before the court on December 18 2023. Mzimba Magistrate’s Court found him guilty and fined him K150,000 and a non-custodial sentence of one year,” he said.

Mazi hails from Kaunda village, Traditional Authority Simulemba in Kasungu District.

Jenda police have since warned the public against the malpractice, saying illegal connections are punishable by law and also puts lives at risk.

Meanwhile, counsel Mtambo, has since called for stiffer punishments to deter would-be offenders.

“We understand that this is a finable offence as it gives an option of a fine but we implore on the magistrates to impose tougher fines that would send a message to the public that if someone tampers with the utility’s infrastructure, the huge consequences of the law would follow,” she said.

Mtambo said Section 45 of the Electricity Act provides for a maximum penalty of K5,000,000 and 10 years imprisonment for illegal connections and vandalism.

“We understand that the Magistrate acted within the law in issuing the fine but it was supposed to be stiffer enough to deter would-be offenders,” she said.

Mtambo said vandalism and illegal connections continue to ESCOM Limited’s efforts to deliver reliable power supply to the nation.

“We are losing more than MK3 billion a year from vandalism and illegal connections. As an institution, we want to lobby for a law amendment to make vandalism a non-fineable offence,” she said.

Mtambo said making vandalism offences criminal, imposing stiffer penalties and intensifying sensitization campaigns would help ESCOM Limited curb the vice.


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