This according to Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba at a Johannesburg Roads Agency briefing on Wednesday, where the agency provided figures relating to theft and vandalism of the city’s traffic infrastructure.
The result of that vandalism was major traffic congestion. JRA figures from 1 November to date show that theft, vandalism and vehicles crashing into traffic lights, account for a combined 11 percent of reasons for faulty traffic lights, but cause a combined average of 14 days’ downtime to repair.
Other factors causing traffic light faults were cable faults, power failures, car accidents and technical repairs. These factors account for a combined average of 18 days’ downtime, according to JRA statistics.
JRA head of department for mobility freight Darryll Thomas said the theft of the city’s steel and cables was usually to sell it as scrap metal. He felt this crime was treated too leniently.
Asked whether the city would like to see harsher penalties for people who steal and vandalise infrastructure, Mashaba asserted that the “lawlessness in our city and country is a huge challenge”.
He said the provincial and national governments should not “abdicate their responsibility” in enforcing the law.
'We don’t have courts'
“We as the City of Johannesburg run a municipality within a legislative constitutional framework where there are certain duties that we can discharge ourselves as a city.
“Unfortunately, we have to rely on the provincial and national governments to assist us with other aspects of law enforcement.
"We will be introducing a few municipal courts shortly," Mashaba explained, "but municipal courts can only deal with certain by-laws.
“Johannesburg metro police can make arrests and hand suspects over to the police for the National Prosecuting Authority to do their work. But are they succeeding in this?
“I’m afraid there is a lot that needs to be done,” the mayor added.
Police minister Nathi Nhleko announced in February he was granting law enforcement agencies an extension of their powers to conduct raids on second-hand goods dealers to curb the theft and sale of metal and cable infrastructure.
The JRA unveiled its plans at Wednesday’s briefing to deal with traffic congestion in the city.
According to Mashaba, this includes the newly announced “no joint” policy, where JRA technicians “will no longer join old cables when an electric fault is reported at a downed traffic light, but will replace damaged cables with new ones”.
He added that this was made possible by a R6 million allocation from the city’s adjusted budget to replace cabling at traffic intersections.
A total of R200 million would also be spent over the next three years to repair faulty traffic lights.