Man who raked in cash ‘fiddling electricity meters’ gets fingers burnt
Petru Saal | 2017-05-30 12:26:16.0
Gerald Ferreira was caught red-handed after accepting R7‚500 to tamper with an electricity meter box. File photo.
Image by: ALBERT GEA
Gerald Ferreira is accused of lining his pockets by offering farmers in Free State towns a deal that was‚ for many‚ too good to resist – cheap electricity.
His modus operandi was to present himself as an Eskom employee and allegedly tamper with their electricity meter boxes in exchange for cash.
He was caught red-handed just after accepting R7‚500 at a meeting on a farm in Viljoenskroon on Friday.
The “farmer” he tried to negotiate a deal with turned out to be an undercover police operative.
Hawks spokesman Captain S’fiso Nyakane said the 44-year-old‚ who is an Eskom sub-contractor‚ was arrested and appeared at the Viljoenskroon Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
“He was arrested … following a year-long investigation into his dealings. He has been charged with corruption‚ fraud and electricity theft.
“He was bypassing meter boxes by tampering with them on the farms in Bothasville and Viljoenskroon. He went to farmers and told them that he was an Eskom employee and that he can help them pay less for their electricity and save money. Eskom suffered a huge loss due to this scam‚” said Nyakane.
Farmers who could not resist the prospect of slashing their electricity bills are now in the cross-hairs.
Eskom is conducting an audit into all farms in the affected areas and those found to have bypassed or tampered with their electricity meters face fines of R35‚000 and potential jail time.
“This person was not an Eskom employee but was subcontracted by Eskom‚” said Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe.
“This guy was going around the farm areas asking farmers and anyone concerned to give him between R2‚000 and R30‚000 for him to bypass the meters for them to essentially get cheaper electricity.” Ferreira will appear in court again on June 2 for a bail application.
– TMG Digital/TimesLIVE