Durban - Copper theft at three mini sub-stations in Pietermaritzburg has left two city engineers and an electrician in critical condition in hospital.
Police are investigating the theft believed to have been carried out by a gang of “highly skilled” criminals.
The cable theft plunged the city into darkness on Friday.
Security around all the city’s sub-stations has now been increased to ensure no further disruptions.
Two city engineers and an electrician were seriously injured when electrical switchgear exploded at the Mason’s Mill sub-station, in the Table Mountain area.
Senior Msunduzi electrical engineer, Ntambo Mgwili, and engineer, Freeway Mthembu, are in a critical condition in ICU while electrician, Ace Mnikathi, sustained severe burns and is in high care.
Msunduzi electricity manager, Sabatha Nomnganga, confirmed that the explosion was triggered by copper theft at the three mini substations on Wednesday night.
He said this caused localised outages on Thursday and then triggered a “knock-on effect” explosion which resulted in the massive power outage on Friday.
At least 15 suburbs were without power for close to eight hours on Friday.
The thieves stole scrap metal, earth leakage bars and copper cables.
Nomnganga estimated damages at about R10 million.
“These gangs know what they are doing. They are highly skilled people who know where and when to strike, causing the most damage.”
We are hoping that with the increased surveillance, especially over the festive season, any more incidents can be avoided,” he said.