Johannesburg - Thirty businesses, including shopping centres and major companies, have been involved in defrauding the City of Joburg of about R200 million.
And they will all be named and shamed publicly in the media as soon as the investigations of the Hawks, SAPS and National Prosecuting Authority are complete.
This was the message from city mayor Parks Tau, who said on Thursday the investigation was continuing and the number of arrests had now risen to 22, which include City Power, the City of Joburg and external contractors.
The Star is aware of one shopping centre in the Fourways area being investigated.
Tau assured residents their accounts had not been affected, nor had the city’s finances because the losses had already been accounted for in the city’s balance sheet.
The arrests involve 109 cases of collusion, corruption, fraud, and tampering with the city’s systems.
Tau said the council had recovered at least R107m that resulted in R200m losses to the city’s revenue collections.
“We originally had 48 cases and in the past two weeks we discovered an additional 61 cases. In the next two weeks we expect to make 10 more arrests,” said Tau.
Stringent security measures were also now being taken to tackle criminal activities at the council’s power stations and substations.
“To address vandalism and criminal activities, the city is in the process of installing integrated and biometric security systems to manage and monitor access into power stations and substations.
“Pylons’ vibration-monitoring systems to detect vandalism are also being installed at substations, which are currently being monitored 24/7.
“Our mandate is to ensure effective and efficient service delivery in the city, and we will not tolerate crime or any form of criminal activities or disruptions and/or tampering with the city’s systems,” he said.
The council would continue to report and work very closely with Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Pravin Gordhan and Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who had been very hands-on in supporting the council in this initiative and other related programmes the council was working on, he said.
Speaking on recent acts of vandalism of electricity pylons and cables, Tau said the council was speaking to the national government to make this act a treasonable one.
“This theft is affecting the very economies of cities, but police do not take it seriously. As soon as these thieves are arrested, they are released the next day as it is considered a minor crime.
“The city has been a victim of deplorable acts, which have resulted in unplanned outages that have been experienced by some customers,” he said.
An average of 32 percent of all outages experienced each month are as a result of theft and vandalism, 16 percent caused by damage by third parties, and 12 percent are related to stolen cables and illegal connections.
“It is clear that we are not dealing with load-shedding issues. We are dealing with power outages caused by criminal activities,” said Tau.
“We have been able to make some of these arrests as a result of anonymous leads given by some community members, and we are grateful.”
Residents can make anonymous tips-offs on illegal connections, cable theft vandalism and tampering with the council’s systems to 0800 002 587. Incidents of vandalism or cable theft can also be reported to 011 490 7911 / 7900 / 7553.