The theft of infrastructure utilised for the provision of services including that of basic services has become a nationwide problem. In particular, the theft of cables, electrical conductors and transformers from the eThekwini Electricity’s network has resulted in significant losses to the Municipality. This not only places a burden on the City’s financial resources but also on its valuable customers that are severely inconvenienced by the supply interruptions arising out of the theft.
Since September 2010 to February 2011, the Municipality has incurred in excess of R9m expenditure related to network theft. Recent trends indicate that a substantial amount of airdac cables (house service cable) are being stolen and used for illegal electricity connections. There are approximately 130 registered scrap metal dealers and 300 ‘bucket shop’ type dealers in the eThekwini region. This poses enormous pressure on authorities in terms of regular compliance monitoring.
The Municipality realised the need to urgently tackle the escalating trend in network theft and has deployed security intelligence teams who are tasked to:
- Conduct regular patrols in ‘hot spot’ areas.
- Conduct covert operations relating to network theft.
- Apprehend suspects caught in the act of stealing equipment belonging to eThekwini Electricity.
- Assist the SAPS in ensuring that theft cases are taken through the criminal justice system.
- Installation of technology at critical substations and overhead lines.
- Monitor and respond to activations where technology is installed.
Apart from the employment of task teams, the Municipality has also employed technology to combat unauthorised entry into substations which in recent times have become the targets of individuals wanting to steal the copper conductors from within.
There are currently 64 substations throughout the eThekwini region which have been identified as ‘hot spots’ and have the pepper gas systems installed. Alarms on overhead lines have also been utilised in areas that were identified as ‘hot spots.’
EThekwini Electricity staff together with the SAPS and our security intelligence teams has conducted raids on scrap dealers during the past year and there have been incidents where dealers were not able to account for material in their possession. In these instances, fines were imposed on these dealers by the SAPS.
The task teams have successfully arrested a number of syndicates and individuals that have been responsible for network theft. 211 individuals have been arrested to date.
Residents are urged to the eyes and ears of the Municipality. Please be vigilant and note people who are cutting cables or trying to gain unauthorized entry into substations.
Please report suspicious activities relating to cable theft to 080 1313 111 or 031 311 9611.
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