The Bonteheuwel area has been grappling with power outages caused by the continued theft of electricity cables.
The Bonteheuwel area has been grappling with power outages caused by the continued theft of electricity cables.

Cable theft deals double blow to frustrated residents of Bonteheuwel

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Jun 3, 2021

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Cape Town - On top of the inconvenience of Eskom’s load shedding, residents in Bonteheuwel are also plagued by power outages caused by cable theft.

This has prompted Bonteheuwel ward councillor Angus McKenzie to say that the area appears to have swopped gang shootings for cable theft.

McKenzie said cable theft – including railway and residential cables – seemed to be a daily occurrence across the city.

“Ongoing cable theft in Bonteheuwel is the primary reason why our lights are out, our streets are dark and there is a possibility of criminal acts taking place.

“As a community, we know who these individuals are. It is clear as this vandalism is taking place in broad daylight. These Spiderman wannabes are willing to risk the most shocking experience life can offer for residents to be placed in a position of no electricity for a sustained period of time,” he said.

McKenzie said tips from residents were received, but perpetrators were released soon afterwards.

“It is sad, because we have legislation in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act that allows for no bail and a minimum 15-year sentence for crimes such as cable theft,” he said.

Bonteheuwel Ratepayers and Tenants Association chairperson Nadia Mayman Degrass said there were outages in different parts of Bonteheuwel daily because of the vandalisation of substations and electric poles.

“This has a negative impact on small businesses in the area whose livelihood depends on having the power to remain open, as well as households that are hurled into darkness for up to 48 hours.

“As an association, we have called on the City a long time ago, on numerous occasions, to close down illegal scrapyards. There is no security safeguarding or visible policing in the areas where there are cables.

“Community members call on Law Enforcement when these acts take place. They refer to police, who respond two days later. Illegal scrap yards create a market for cable theft,” said Mayman Degrass.

Bishop Lavis CPF chairperson Graham Lindhorst said unless community members came forward to open cases, there was nothing the police could do.

“Also, if a person has opened a case and the perpetrator is released, as a CPF we will take up the case. We have been taking up cases that we felt the police didn’t do justice to in terms of investigating and ensuring they’re court ready.

“Many times residents only upload pictures online, which at times are not factual and put the police in a bad light, which eventually causes problems between them and the community. We need to do something.

“If people come forward and lay a charge, the police are duty-bound to take a statement and make an arrest,” said Lindhorst.

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Cape Argus

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