Brazen cable thieves are costing the eThekweni City Council millions of rands and are crippling the rate of service delivery for eThekwini electricity, according to a media release by the city council.
In suburbs and industrial areas around the city, notes the release, “electricity officials are battling to gain ground against a group of thieves who are fleecing the city of 3 to 5 km of copper cables every day.”
Discussing the modus operandi of the thieves, Ivan Worthington an official in the department told of a “band of criminals” who execute their plan with military precision. “They arrive on a street normally very early in the morning. They normally have several ladders, they hoist them up and start cutting down cables.” Worthington says that within 20 minutes the thieves can remove one kilometre of cable.
In a bid to stamp out the problem, which is a national issue and also prominent in the Western Cape, eThekweni Council officials are pleading with consumers to assist them by calling Metro Police on 031 361 0000 if they suspect any suspicious activities.
The press release warns that the thieves, when caught and challenged in the act, claim they are officials in the process of upgrading the cables. “However, it is our policy not to replace cables that are in good working order.” It also adds that contractors employed by the municipality have one ladder and that their vehicles are clearly marked with the name of the contractor.
Cable theft, according to the release, is a serious issue that has a huge impact on the current energy crisis engulfing the country. The cost of cable theft runs into thousands of rands per pole and tens of thousands or rands to re-connect a whole street.
Breaking down the costs per metre; R9 per metre to purchase, between R10 and R70 to hang the cable and R20 to R50 to connect.
Theft on Durban’s Southern Freeway involving the chopping down of poles is costing the municipality R3 000 each in replacement costs.