The Water Authority of Fiji successfully obtained conviction in its first water theft case today. The case was heard before Magistrate, Sumudu Premachandra at the Nasinu Magistrate Court this morning – January 8th, 2013.
The accused is charged with willful interference with an asset of the Authority; contrary to Section 36(1) and 27(2) of the water Authority of Fiji Promulgation 2007.
It is alleged that between the 24th Days of February, 2011 to the 2nd Day of October, 2012 the accused willfully interfered with the water system of the Water Authority of Fiji by making connection to the water system using hosepipes without first obtaining the prior approval of the Authority. The accused pleaded guilty to the charge and will be sentenced on the 20th of March.
Outside court, WAF Legal Counsel, Talei Ligairi said this case marks the beginning of a number of prosecutions by the Authority against customers who were found to have been illegally connected to its water and sewerage system.
“This is an indication that WAF is serious about prosecuting those that have continued to either illegally or connect without permission to the Authority’s water and sewerage systems,” she said.
“We have noticed that despite numerous awareness campaigns, people continued to ignore the illegality of their actions and therefore, WAF’s legal team has made necessary efforts to ensure that those citizens involved are taken to task,” Ms Ligairi said.
WAF’s legal team began filing its cases in court after a nationwide campaign against illegal connections last year.
An amnesty period was given from the 14th of May 2012 to the 14th of August, 2012 to allow customers to come forward and regularize their sewerage and water connections status. Those who have failed to do so will be prosecuted.
Meanwhile, two similar cases have been filed in court and will be heard on the 15th and the 16th of January consecutively. The second case will be heard at the Suva Magistrate Court and the other at the Nadi Magistrate Court.
The Authority’s prosecution team is expected to file additional cases in court in the coming months.