Concern over electricity vandalism

Bolts and nuts that hold these crash barriers down along with the barrier and lamppost electrical covers are missing from more then 500metres of the highway around the Crown interchange as on Thursday 07 February. Four scrap metal exchange shops are located within 3 kilometers of this interchange. One exchange says the going rate for some of these metals can be up to R40 per kilo. Picture: Timothy Bernard 07.02.2013

In the six months between October 2018 and March 2019, there were about 70 instances of electricity vandalism and theft in the metro, costing the City of Cape Town greatly and it is calling on all residents for their assistance.

Vandalism and theft of critical electricity infrastructure is a challenge across the city and it more often than not affects the most vulnerable residents of Cape Town.

In area south, which includes Constantia, Wynberg, Philippi, Muizenberg and surrounds, there was an estimated R3.2 million in vandalism and theft.

In area east for example, which includes Goodwood, Parow, Gordon’s Bay and surrounds, there was an estimated R1.2 million in vandalism and theft.

“Vandalism not only impacts negatively on residents’ lives but also on the public purse. Money that can be spent on other projects to improve the lives of residents has to be redirected to fix what is being destroyed. Vandals do not realise that a component for which they may receive R100 at a scrap
dealer can cause damages of hundreds of thousands of rand.

The scourge of vandalism impacts on the lives of residents and the only way to stamp this out is for residents to work with the City to bring the criminals to book,” said Phindile Maxiti, the City’s mayoral committee member for energy and climate change.

“I am calling on residents to be the anti-vandalism and theft ambassadors for the City in their neighbourhoods and to report the perpetrators. In most cases, the perpetrators are known to residents as they are from the same neighbourhoods. Without input from residents, the City will never win the war against these crimes.

To encourage this, the City offers a reward of R5 000 to anyone who provides information that leads to arrest, confiscation of stolen or illegal goods or the handing-in of illegal or
stolen goods. This reward is also applicable to information leading to the arrest of people vandalising, damaging or stealing electricity infrastructure or installing illegal connections.

“We also continue to roll out new technology and to think outside of the box to reduce the attractiveness and impact of vandalism. This illegal activity has many repercussions for the City as a whole as we have to account for the cost of repairs following vandalism of the infrastructure and the associated overtime to effect repairs, not to mention the actual human resources required. This all adds to the cost of supplying electricity. In addition, it’s a waste of City resources and takes away from other service delivery responsibilities.

“Electricity vandalism leaves our communities in darkness and places our residents at risk of electric shock and allows criminals to operate more easily. Vandalism can cause a lasting effect on communities and can be considered an act against community members. Communities are affected by long outages, and indirectly, through increased service costs. We are appealing to all members of the public to assist us by reporting any suspicious activities near electricity infrastructure or providing any leads on electricity tampering.

“Every bit of help to curb this extreme waste of City resources will make a difference,” said Mr Maxiti.

The City also places a large focus on preventing theft as income that is lost from stolen electricity impacts on the sustainability of the service for all residents. In addition, it is a dangerous action that can lead to the death of the perpetrator.

The City has ongoing operations to disconnect and remove illegal connections and those arrested are likely to be charged in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act 18 of 2015. According to the act, the minimum sentence for vandalism or theft of infrastructure is three years imprisonment and the maximum 30 years.

More than R100 million is recovered each year by the City’s Revenue Protection team.

Residents can report these incidents anonymously to their closest police station, or to the City’s Call Centre on 0860 103 089 or the City’s 107 emergency number from a landline or on 021 480 7700.