Vodacom's KwaZulu-Natal region is ramping up efforts to tackle the escalating issues of vandalism and battery theft at its base stations. Monthly, the region witnesses between 90 to 140 vandalism incidents and 120 to 160 battery thefts.
Imran Khan, managing executive of Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal region said: "Despite the surge in such criminal activities, our intensified security measures have led to a recent decline. The repercussions of these crimes aren't just financial; they disrupt vital network services, impacting communities dependent on our connectivity."
Many communities, particularly in remote areas, rely solely on cellular base stations for connectivity.
Vandalism and theft leave thousands without essential communication, severely affecting individuals, small businesses, and even posing risks in emergencies. The financial burden of restoring these services ranges from tens to hundreds of thousands of rand per site, funds that could be better used for network enhancements and expanding to rural areas.
With the aim of ensuring uninterrupted connectivity during load shedding, Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal has introduced backup power solutions at its base stations.
However, this has inadvertently made these sites attractive to criminals, leading to theft of generators, diesel, backup batteries, and related equipment.
In response, Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal has fortified its security.
Measures include the installation of surveillance cameras, deployment of trained security staff, and the introduction of high-security battery cabinets and reinforced site containers.
The region is also collaborating with law enforcement and security firms, resulting in several pending court cases against the culprits.
Khan emphasised the importance of community involvement in curbing these crimes, noting the success in areas where locals, including farmers, have reported suspicious activities.
"Halting vandalism and theft is crucial for uninterrupted network services and ensuring everyone enjoys the advantages of connectivity," Khan added.
Vodacom encouraged the public to report any incidents related to battery theft or site vandalism via their toll-free number, 082 241 9952, or by contacting the SAPS at 10111.