The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has disconnected over 100 households in Harare's Stoneridge neighbourhood over rampant illegal power abstraction.
The power utility says the blitz marks the beginning of a nationwide operation of targeting illegal power connections.
ZESA argues it was losing huge amounts of money monthly due to the illegal power connections. To carry out the blitz in Stoneridge, ZESA enlisted the protection of police officers as it launched the operation in Harare Tuesday.
The blitz has since exposed how illegal connections which included meter by-passing, dangerous and unsafe wiring and illicit subletting of power among others, resulted in the parastatal losing millions in revenue.
In Stoneridge, a mushrooming low income suburb south of Harare, ZESA had contracted a local company, Ethood Electrical Engineering, to construct a power line and wiring before residents engaged unregistered individuals to illegally connect them.
Stoneridge residents told NewZimbabwe.com they were swindled by a former Ethood Electrical Engineering employee identified as Peni Jaison who, after being fired from work, had been illegally connecting them for a fee, but purporting to be representing the company.
"We paid a lot of money to Jaison thinking he was representing his company. We now realise we have been duped, the cable he used on wiring is not the one recommended by ZESA and there were no inspections done. We are only asking the authority to help us regularise this since we are not working due to the Covid-19 lockdown," one resident, Kennias Magodo said.
Ethood Electrical Engineering representative Nelvin Gwishiri said they engaged the police and the ZESA loss control team after noticing some unsafe wiring and illegal connections on the electricity poles.
"We have engaged the police and the ZESA loss control team after noting some illegal and unsafe wiring on our poles. We have since opened a docket for Jaison under RRB4443036 at Mbudzi roundabout police base whom we suspected had connected them," Gwishiri said.
Illegal power connections attract a jail term of between 10 to 30 years.
In a statement, ZESA warned residents illegally connecting the power that they faced arrest and prosecution.
"ZETDC would like to advise that those caught stealing power through illegal connections and bypassing of meters will be disconnected with the prejudice to the power utility being recovered. Criminal charges may also be levelled against those stealing power with the possibility of a jail sentence of 10 or 30 years," ZESA said.
"ZETDC would like to advise that all suspicious points including bypasses that are flagged by the internal information technology systems are going to be netted and disconnected."