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Probe into Pretoria power cuts

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Copy of Copy of IOL bus mar11 Eskom power

Reuters

File photo: Mike Hutchings

Pretoria - Criminal investigations into Pretoria's electricity substation vandalism will include municipal employees, Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said on Wednesday.

“Stripping the Brakfontein substation requires that person to do it over a period of three days,” he told reporters in Pretoria.

“This is someone with the right of access... at the substation. We have reason to believe that with that information, we can point the law enforcement agencies into the right direction, including our own employees and contractors.”

Large parts of Centurion were left without electricity since early Sunday morning due to vandalism and theft of cables at Pretoria's Brakfontein and Kentron sub-stations.

The areas affected included Centurion CBD, Swartkop, Highveld, Ecopark, Rooihuiskraal, Amberfield, the Reeds, Noordwes, Thatchfield, and Wierda Park.

Ramokgopa said the city had two major power failures in Centurion.

Electricity was restored to some areas on Tuesday night, but others would be in the dark until Friday.

“I want to express our sincerest apologies to the residents of Tshwane, especially in the affected areas. This power has an economic cost to many families.

“The inconvenience is great on people who wake up and cannot have a warm bath. We appreciate that with these great levels of discomfort, our people choose to remain disciplined.”

Since April, there had been more than 450 incidents of cable theft and tampering with electricity sub-stations, which cost the city more than R20m.

“There was another attempt this morning to undermine the electricity supply by tampering with our sub-station in Lyttelton. A similar incident also happened in Atteridgeville,” he said.

“These are people with the skills and technical know-how and they are running amok on the length and breadth of the city.”

The Kentron sub-station burst into flames on Monday due to the vandalism and theft of accessories.

Ramokgopa said saboteurs were targeting the city's infrastructure. Extra security measures would be implemented.

“We think that this amounts to sabotage, just to undermine the economy of the capital city and the nation in general.

“We have escalated the matter to various law enforcement agencies at a national level. There must be some degree of intelligence gathering capacity to help us resolve this problem.”

On Wednesday afternoon, most supermarkets and restaurants at the Centurion Mall were closed and customers were turning back.

Infuriated businessman Brian Musemwa said companies were losing millions of rands.

“These power outages have been prolonged and we struggle to pay our employees at the end of the month because we are not trading. The mayor should have announced a temporary intervention plan,” he said.

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