Stolen Transnet transformers worth R1.7 million seized in Doornpoort
Pretoria - Hardly a week after President Cyril Ramaphosa bemoaned cable and transformer theft during the State of the Nation Address, police arrested a man in Sinoville with 10 transformers worth R1.7 million.
During his address, Ramaphosa said task teams had been set up to deal with crimes like cable theft, railway infrastructure vandalism, and transformer snatching, which hampered economic activity and discouraged investment.
This week, 10 Transnet transformers were stolen at Reiger Park, Germiston, transported and stored in business premises at Doornpoort in Pretoria.
Constable Manie Botha and Constable Sentie Kgataki Moraswi followed up on information they received, and upon their arrival at Doornpoort, found the 10 transformers. Inquiries were made and documentation was presented showed that the transformers had been bought legally.
The officers were still not convinced, and Sergeant Jack Thabethe from Sinoville detective services was contacted to assist.
Together they contacted the complainant in the case, and on his arrival, he identified the transformers as goods stolen from his company.
With further investigation, it was determined that the documents presented to the officers were tampered with to give the impression that the transformers were legally purchased.
“The transformers are valued at R1 700 000,” the police said.
A 36-year-old male was arrested on a charge of possession of suspected stolen goods and will appear in court soon.
Meanwhile, a multidisciplinary approach-driven operation was conducted around the city on Wednesday, after authorities received information about suspects delivering suspected stolen copper wire at a scrapyard in Hercules.
Police intercepted a truck fitting the description at the identified scrapyard, loaded high with what was the suspected stolen copper, weighing about 3 840kg.
Said the local police: “Further investigation led the team to a plot in Heatherderdale near Akasia, where we recovered 1 830 metres of copper wire, also suspected to have been stolen.
“There three men aged 47, 49, and 60 were immediately apprehended for questioning regarding the suspected stolen copper wire found in their possession.”
Police seized an M2000 Evolution Man truck and copper wires from both crime scenes.
Eskom has, in the meantime, bemoaned the series of criminal activities in Gauteng, which are threatening to compromise their ability to provide a consistent supply of power, especially during the lockdown.
The power utility said the stealing of transformers was not a new phenomenon, but was growing by the day, especially in big metropolitans. The transformers can be used for numerous things.
In a statement, the utility said people often stole transformers at substations or on the network, for the oil, which they use to fuel cars or other equipment.
“ Some people even use this transformer oil for cooking, which is a serious health risk as it is fuel oil and not cooking oil.
“They break open the transformer – which is an act of vandalism – before using a tool such as a hosepipe to draw the oil. Because of this, the area in which the sub-station supplies electricity will be without power. This also results in a risk of electrocution to the person performing the theft and to passers-by, since live electrical equipment is now exposed,” said Eskom.
Economist Dawie Roodt said electricity cuts harm the economy as they lead to revenue loss.
Roodt said Gauteng was the heartland of economic activity, and electricity was needed for businesses, manufacturers, and providers of services.
“There are many head offices in Pretoria, and it is very important for them to keep on functioning. It’s going to be bad for the entire country’s economy if Gauteng is affected.”
He said a solution to this problem affecting many municipalities was far from being reached.