The retired City Electrical Engineer of the erstwhile Kempton Park Municipality, Jan Malan, has been laid to rest. He was 79 years of age and succumbed to a cancer-related illness after a spell in a Pretoria hospital.
After serving in various utilities, including an earlier 6-year spell at Kempton Park, Jan re-joined Kempton Electricity in 1977 and set about implementing various power projects to provide a sound basis for supplying electricity to the burgeoning community. One of these was the development of the 66 kV high voltage ring system, another the implementation of a “ripple control” load management system. He was also involved in the take-over of the Eskom network in the industrial area of Isando, and a number of other projects. His vision and leadership contributed to the success of the projects and – significantly – to the financial well-being of the City.
He relished challenges and his greatest was probably normalising the Tembisa network, a large residential township to the north of the City centre, where an ominous R250-million bad debt legacy was smouldering, ready to burst into chaos at any moment.
With the vision that was one of his hallmarks Jan set about finding a two-way solution to this problem. His far-sightedness led him into discussions with metering manufacturers in order to find and install a system that on the one hand provided facilities for customers to know what was happening as they consumed electricity, and on the other, for the utility to remotely monitor and control the supply.
What was effectively a “smart” metering system in modern jargon was so far ahead of its time that a potential UK supplier is reported to have said “…certainly this is a world first”.
In spite of extensive vandalism of plant and equipment, and numerous “teething troubles” including technical and administrative problems, Jan’s steadfastness prevailed and the fruits of his labour are visible today with a 95% payment level in the community, reliable power supplies and a higher quality of service to all.
It goes without saying that a visionary who was hard working, a model of fairness, a pillar of integrity, and who’s word was his honour, would fall foul of some people in a changing world where “self interest” plays an increasing role in decision-making in communities around the globe. Suffice to say that in spite of some two years of muck-raking by mainly faceless individuals Jan’s character and reputation were unblemished. He retired from municipal service at the age of 61 and pursued his other interests.
His vision for the municipal distribution industry was based on better service to his customers, better quality of supply and a sound, fair, equitable financial deal for both the supplier and the customer. He supported Government initiates to re-structure the industry and canvassed tirelessly both as president of the AMEU during his 1995 to 1997 term of office, and his years of service on the Association’s Executive Committee. At one stage he was even discussing the possibility of banks financing a project to buy Kempton Electricity from the municipality in order for it to be run as a business on behalf of its customers.
Jan was a true visionary, big in stature with a heart to match, and a friend indeed. He will be truly missed.
Source: EE plublishers