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Burglaries spike during load shedding as criminals prey on vulnerable Cape communities

A house on a street during load shedding. Only a street light illuminates a house porch. Trees are also lit by lights in the background.

During a patrol in Hanover Park on Friday evening, Premier Alan Winde said that he was made aware of the complaints about increased criminal activities during load shedding. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 22, 2023


Cape Town - Burglaries are the most reported crime during load shedding hours, according to statistics supplied by SAPS.

But the Western Cape government said that the extra support of Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (Leap) officers in areas hit hardest by criminals during rolling blackouts is helping.

Property crimes topped the list with 29.2% of reported incidents during load shedding, while contact crime was second at 23.7% for the period December 2022 to January 2023.

Delft, Bishop Lavis and Nyanga were the police stations with the most crimes reported in the province.

During a patrol in Hanover Park on Friday evening, Premier Alan Winde said that he was made aware of the complaints about increased criminal activities during load shedding.

“Apart from the devastation wreaked by mass power blackouts on the economy and jobs, it also leaves communities more vulnerable to criminals,” he said

“Community members often complain to me about the link between load shedding and crime: criminals are taking full advantage of rolling blackouts, preying on law-abiding citizens under the cover of darkness.

“Leap is adding value to the war on crime. We know we still have a long way to go in beating back crime, but we are on the right track, using data and evidence to guide our policing efforts.”

However, Hanover Park community police forum (CPF) spokesperson Kashiefa Mohammed Han said Winde was grandstanding.

“They must not politicise poverty. (Mayco member for safety and security) JP Smith launched the drones in December in Hanover Park. Many murders have happened and no one has been arrested for all the incidents.

“There was no walk as they drove through Hanover Park and they never reached the red zone area. And we were not even informed that they were coming to the area.

“Most shootings happen during load shedding; gangsters watch their targets while the lights are still on, and the lights in flats, and the councillor knows about that but nothing has been fixed.

“They say crime is under control but our people live in fear. Our community is disappointed in all of the leading role-players.”

Han said that they caught burglars in Newfields yesterday who also took advantage of load shedding.

“This burglary happened during load shedding on Sunday morning. We need to deal with it, we have proof. So where are the Leap officers and the rest of the Western Cape Government officials when our community needs them?”

Meanwhile, Delft CPF spokesperson Charles George said that load shedding had given ideas to criminals, who cut the power.

“Crime breeds during load shedding, that we have discovered, but now these criminals cut cables and people are offline – not just for a few hours but for days and sometimes weeks.

“What is frustrating is that the perpetrators are sometimes known … the police are called but they don’t arrive, so we need extra policing for such cases.

“Nothing has been done about this, and we see that crime is getting out of hand and we want the police, including Leap officers, to be proactive in fighting this type of crime.”

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Cape Argus