The Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) today recorded its first successful conviction in the Suva Magistrates Court in a bid to clamp down on illegal connections.
The case marks the first of many cases for the authority who will continue to prosecute those who are found to be illegally connected to WAF’s reticulation system.
This morning a man was fined $1,000 to be paid within three months in default will face imprisonment after illegally connecting the water supply to his home for three days in October last year.
In sentencing Magistrate Alipate Mataitini said there is a paramount need to safeguard the public and has given the accused until April 30th to pay the amount in full.
“The penalties for this offence do reflect the seriousness with which the lawmakers regard this offence and accordingly will impose a penalty it deems appropriate under the circumstances.
“The court is mindful of the gravity of this crime, given the paramount need to safeguard the public and to discourage those who would not be so easily deterred.”
The accused Ross Lumkon had waived his right to a legal counsel and had pleaded guilty to one count of the charge of willful interference with an asset of the authority under the Water Authority Promulgation 2007.
Prosecution was represented by WAF legal associate Akosita Matakaca and John Rabuku of Law Solutions this morning.
The court heard that the Water Authority of Fiji had disconnected the water supply after owed arrears of $47.93 on October 29 last year but upon a visit to the residence on October 31 last year found that the accused had reconnected the water supply using a hose pipe.
In sentencing Magistrate Mataitini said that the aggravating feature of the offence was that the accused actions could have contaminated the main service line.
“As well you were in effect stealing water and had the Authority not visited your premises two days after disconnecting your supply, you would have continued using your hosepipe unlawfully and contamination would have been a real threat.”
In mitigation the court heard the accused had paid for a new meter, holds no previous convictions, was remorseful and married with two children.
Case has been adjourned for review on May 3, and given 28 days to appeal.
Currently the WAF has received a total of 60 cases of those found to be illegally connected from the three regions Central Eastern, Western and Northern and an internal investigation team has been tasked to verify the evidences gathered before filed in court.