Cable thieves are causing more power blackouts in Bonteheuwel than Eskom load shedding, says the ward councillor.
On Monday May 31, residents photographed a man who had climbed on a roof to steal electricity cables.
Cable theft is a common problem in the neighbourhood, says ward councillor, Angus McKenzie.
“Electricity outage in certain parts of Bonteheuwel overnight and still ongoing was caused by individuals stealing electricity cables near Jasmine Street,” he said. “The community needs to hold those responsible to account who continually place your life on hold and at risk in this manner.”
Cable theft was more to blame for residents sitting in darkness than load shedding, he said. And when the lights went out, crime went up, he added.
“As a community, we know who these individuals are,” he said. “It is clear, as this vandalism is taking place in broad daylight in front of all of us. These Spider-Man wannabees are willing to risk the most shocking experience life can offer for residents to be placed in a position of no electricity for a sustained period of time.”
Bonteheuwel resident Karin Puckree said the cable thieves were often youngsters
“There’s so many people doing it, but mainly a group of young guys and girls more regularly – early 20s, I presume. I’ve caught them red-handed more than once in the middle of the night with large amounts of cables. The girls are the lookout while the guys steal. If you saw them at night, you’d just think they’re a group of people hanging out together. They don’t even look like your run-of-the-mill druggies, and that’s probably why people aren’t suspicious when they see them out at night,” she said.
Bishop Lavis Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman Graham Lindhorst said cable theft in Bonteheuwel was a constant problem. The thieves used the money they made from selling it to feed their habits. The copper was sold to scrapyards that then resold it.
The fires many residents reported seeing on the roadside were often thieves burning the plastic off the cables.
Mr Lindhorst said constant power outages in the dark winter months meant there was more danger of people being robbed.
“Residents also know who they are but conceal their identity. The CPF is fully aware of the issue because we are out at night on the streets. We will chat to SAPS to see what we can do about them issuing licences to these scrapyards,” he said.
Bishop Lavis SAPS station commander Brigadier Christopher Jones said could not comment on how many cable-theft-related arrests had been made in the past month. However, he said those caught were now charged under the Criminal Amendment Act for destroying public infrastructure and faced jail terms in excess of five years.
Men and women of all ages, not only the youth, were to blame and were feeding their drug habits, he said.
“Where criminals get an opportunity to act, they will. So judging from experience, an area in darkness is definitely an opportunity they will take to commit crimes.”