Picture: Cindy Waxa/ANA

CAPE TOWN - Theft and vandalism are compromising Cape Town water supply security, the city said on Sunday.

"The City of Cape Town has been informed that theft from aquifer drilling sites is making it difficult for contractors to bring more water online timeously. Furthermore, theft of other city infrastructure often results in water running to waste," mayoral committee member for for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy Xanthea Limberg said.

This was resulting in delays of weeks at a time which the population could ill afford. Tools, batteries, vehicles, and any materials which could be perceived to have scrap value were being targeted.

"It is incredibly frustrating that even such crucial work is not immune from these destructive elements in our society. We are calling on any residents that may have information on these activities to please come forward with any information that could assist with investigations," Limberg said.

Theft of the city’s water supply infrastructure was still worryingly common. In cases where fire hydrants, water meters, and valves were damaged by thieves and vandals the result was often water running to waste. Since July 2017 more than R5 million worth of hydrants, meters, and valves had been stolen or damaged.

"It is not possible to reliably say how much water has been lost, but in this time of scarcity any water lost due to theft and vandalism is too much," Limberg said.

Residents could report vandalism of city infrastructure to the city’s Call Centre on 0860-103-089. Members of the public could report metal theft or provide tip-offs to the Metal Theft Unit control room on 0800-222-771 or 021-400-2828. Theft could also be reported to the South African Police Service on 10111, or the Public Emergency Call Centre by calling 107 from a landline or 021-480-7700 from a cellphone.
 
"When communities are vigilant and report vandalism of infrastructure, the infrastructure Capetonians are paying for via rates and tariffs, it not only ensures that more criminals are apprehended but also creates a climate in which it is more difficult for criminals to operate. We need the assistance of the public to address this issue," said Limberg.
- African News Agency (ANA), editing by Jacques Keet