Johannesburg - As load shedding continues to plague Joburg, cable thieves seem to be determined to plunge the city even further into darkness.
While many parts of Joburg experienced power cuts on Wednesday night, some parts of the south did not have power due to cable theft.
Thieves dug a 35m-long trench next to a City Power substation in Liefde en Vrede, south of Glenvista, and stole cables. The trench was dug on a pathway that was clearly marked to show where the cables were laid.
Bruce Lennox of the Glenvista Community Forum said they were patrolling in the early hours of Thursday when they saw City Power vehicles parked on Klipview Road. The power utility had also brought its armed guards.
Lennox stopped his vehicle and approached them to find out what was happening.
“The City Power guys said they had been alerted to the trench which runs all the way to their substation. They left their armed guards there for the whole night as they suspected that the people who dug the trench might return,” Lennox said.
It is believed that the trench was dug late on Wednesday afternoon. A passer-by apparently saw that it was on the same path where the cables had been laid, and alerted City Power officials.
No one was found there, but the guards stayed put in case the cable thieves returned.
Yesterday, the freshly dug trench exposed an orange cable that had been pulled from the ground and cut.
Lennox said that what the thieves do is take the cable, strip it of its rubber layer and sell it.
Tharina Truter, general manager of risk control and compliance at City Power, said the area where the cable was stolen was a hotspot for cable theft and that they constantly monitor the area as a result.
The theft affected electricity supply to the area, leaving areas that were not on the load-shedding schedule without power.
Truter bemoaned the continuing theft of copper cables, which she said was costing City Power millions of rand.
“Since November last year, City Power has spent over R36 million replacing cables as a result of theft,” she said.
“In a bid to clamp down on the scourge, City Power regularly conducts joint sting operations with the police at scrap metal dealers.
“City Power also conducts joint operations with the police, the Joburg metro police department, Eskom and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa to disconnect illegal connections to the City Power network.
“Electricity and infrastructure theft compromises the stability of our network and affects service delivery to our customers,” Truter said.