THE city of Tshwane has intensified it’s fight against cable theft which has in the last year cost the municipality close to R120 Million.
Mayor Solly Msimanga has announced the acquisition of new vehicles to combat the crime which he has described as a crime against the government which has recently reached concerning levels across the country.
“The incidences of cable theft are shocking to say the least. To put it in context, for the period of July to December 2017 a total of 1 160 incidences of cable theft and vandalism of infrastructure were reported to have cost the City almost R62 million,” he said.
“For the period January to July 2018 a total of 1 654 incidences of cable theft and vandalism of the infrastructure were reported, costing the City of Tshwane an estimated R58 Million. This translates to an annual loss of R119 million.”
Msimanga said the continued menace of cable theft has forced them to reinforce their resources so as to curb and eradicate the disruptive phenomenon.
“Today we are unveiling103 vehicles, the bulk of which will be dedicated to our Anti-Cable Theft Unit to help us in curbing this scourge that is terrorizing our VIPs, the residents of the City of Tshwane and subjecting them to rolling power outages. The people involved in this misdeed have become sophisticated, more brazen and very dangerous without a care of the magnitude of the disruption they cause to people’s lives and the City’s economy,” he said.
Msimanga said the handover comes at the time where the city recently experienced one of the worst electricity crisis where the Wapadrand substation was completely destroyed by fire affecting the residents of Faerie Glen, Silver Lakes, Lombardy, Zwavelpoort, Equestria and other neighboring suburbs.
Initial investigations into the blaze at the substation indicate an intense blaze of short duration. The suburbs were plunged into darkness for weeks on end due to the substation problems.
“This indicates a severe electrical fault, causing intense heat and initiating the fire. This shows how theft can compromise our assets and lead to a similar incident like that of Wapadrand substation. On Tuesday 17 July whilst our technicians were busy with power restoration at Wapadrand, a cable theft incident at the nearby Shere thwarted our plans of restoring power to the area thus delaying restoration by another day,” he said.
In Mamelodi, the traffic lights are constantly not working due to theft of cables and vandalism. Hospitals and clinics run the risk of turning back patients as they will not be in a position to attend to some medical emergencies.
Msimanga said the unfolding story of constant power cuts affects investor confidence in the economy of the city and the country as well.
“We therefore plead with our residents to be active citizenry and report suspected cases of theft to the authorities and not pursuit the cable thieves themselves. Community involvement is key in winning this fight. Our men in uniform can only do so much. This administration will continue to honour the commitments it made to all the people of Tshwane, to be a government that they can be proud of,” he said.
The problem is prevalent throughout the province. From November 2017 to May 2018, Ekurhuleni lost R60 million and Johannesburg R50 million. According to the three cities, the theft has severe implications for both service delivery and businesses losing revenue.
Ekurhuleni’s Themba Gadebe said the R60 501 329.00 incurred by the city includes day-to-day replacements of stolen cables and conversion of copper conductors to less theft prone aluminium conductors plus labour and material.
Johannesburg’s Luyanda Mfeka said the theft was felt by the city when it came to revenue.
“Cable theft impacts negatively on service delivery as it results in loss of revenue for City Power. This means that the funds that are meant for delivery of services are redirected to replace the stolen and vandalized infrastructure,” he said.