Girl, 8, burnt while trying to save sister from electrocution

Photo for illustration. Illegal electricity connections.

Chantelle Matthews, 8, of Hillside, Grabouw, in the Western Cape died after she is believed to have stepped on an open live wire left by people making illegal electrical connections.

The sister of a girl electrocuted when she stepped on an illegal electricity connection on Sunday sustained minor burns while trying to help her sibling.

Chantelle Matthews, 8, of Hillside, Grabouw, in the Western Cape died after she is believed to have stepped on an open live wire left by people making illegal electrical connections at nearby hostels, the Daily Voice reported.

The little girl’s mother, Abigail Matthews, 27, told the newspaper her daughter was still alive when she arrived at the scene.

She later died in her arms, before the ambulance services could arrive.

Chantelle’s sister, Chante, 7, sustained electrical burns on her hands while trying to pull her sister away from the live wire, the publication reported.

She had told her mother they had been playing with a ball when Chantelle fell and started making guttural sounds as her body convulsed.

According to the Cape Times, the family doesn’t know how they will bury their “little baby”.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said a death inquest has been opened for investigation.

Eskom said a full investigation has been launched, it was reported earlier.

The utility said there had been no reports of minors killed by illegal connections in the Western Cape in the past year.

Six adults had, however, died from electrocution. They were suspected to have been involved either in electricity theft, or coming into direct contact with energised wires or objects as a result of illegal and unsafe connections.

Matlhodi Maseko, DA member and chairperson of the Standing Committee on Human Settlements in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature, said illegal connections are an “extreme hazard” which are poorly constructed as they don’t have the necessary electrical protection around wiring and cables for homes.

In addition, it also reduces the stability of electricity to areas and contributes to power outages.

She said in the past three years electrical theft and vandalism has cost almost R200 million.

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