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DM loses millions through cable theft

After losing approximately R5 million over a two-and-a-half year period due to copper cable theft in Drakenstein, the municipality is now replacing the copper cables with aluminium cables.

Marius Wüst, Executive Director: Engineering Services at Drakenstein Municipality, said information had been collected to identify trends in the different areas, and the types of theft predominant in each area.

Analysis of the information collected found the theft of overhead line conductors happened mostly in the rural areas; street lights in Wellington (Van Wyksvlei area, Hillcrest area, New Rest area), Vlakkeland (R101 area), Van der Stel Street area, and Gouda area.

There was also the theft of distribution boxes in the Wellington (industrial parks area), Paarl East (Siyahlala area, Bo-dal area and Amstelhof area). Moreover, underground cables are being stolen all over Drakenstein.

Riana Geldenhuys, Manager: Communication and Marketing at the Municipality said in a media statement that these types of crimes affect everyone as they impact the delivery of crucial services, primarily the provision of electricity, public transport and telephone and Internet services.

“Power outages, often caused by cable theft, can lead to an increase in crime as properties are more vulnerable. It also results in municipalities having to spend ratepayers’ money to replace or repair cables stolen or damaged by thieves.

“It further diverts resources that could have been better utilised elsewhere. Worst of all, however, is the potential loss of innocent lives due to electrocution or fires as a result of exposed cables.”

According to Geldenhuys, in 2019 in Van der Stel Street in Paarl thieves not only stole the new copper cables less than a week after they were replaced, but they also robbed the municipality’s technicians in broad daylight while they were repairing the damaged infrastructure.

“Given that conducting repairs became not only additional expenditure but also dangerous for municipal staff, the municipality had to find an alternative solution. It was decided that to be able to conduct repairs and address cable theft all copper cables would be replaced by aluminium cables as had been done in Vlakkeland, in Jan van Riebeeck Drive.”

According to Geldenhuys, a decrease in vandalism and cable theft was noticed after certain street light cables were replaced with aluminium cables.

Given the additional expense of replacing the copper cables, the project could begin only in the new financial year that started on 1 July.

The process of appointing a contractor is already underway and repairs are expected to begin in Van der Stel Street this month.

Geldenhuys said the municipality is working together with various law enforcement agencies and farm watches to combat cable theft in the municipal area. The municipality’s Law Enforcement division is using smart technology such as drones, cable alarms and monitors, and quick and easy radio communication with all security agencies to expedite its response to these incidents.

The municipality calls on residents to assist in combating cable theft by reporting those individuals or syndicates who put people’s lives and livelihoods at risk to Drakenstein Municipality’s Reporting Hotline Number: 0800 555 337 or drakenstein@whistleblowing.co.za.

Whistleblowers who give information that leads to the successful criminal prosecution of anyone who committed a criminal act against the municipality may be rewarded substantially.

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