Hundreds of jobs in midlands at risk as cable theft increases

2011-08-10 00:00

HUNDREDS of jobs in the tourism and the agricultural sector around the midlands are at risk as widespread thefts of telephone lines threaten to cripple businesses in the area.

The Witness recently reported that a syndicate is thought to be operating in the area and that at least 30 cases of phone line theft, most of which have occurred in the last two weeks, have been reported with the police.

John Poltero of Fern Hill Hotel International Hotel School reported last month that the theft of phone lines has impacted on his business and hotel school operations. He was told it could take up to December to replace the phone lines.

Poltero yesterday said his business is taking strain. “There are about 40 employees and 40 students who are being adversely affected by the theft of the phone lines. The workers cannot work properly and the students cannot do their work.”

He said his business would suffer significantly if the situation persists.

“If this continues until September I could find my hotel business empty because people cannot make bookings.”

Pynee Chetty of Telkom stated previously that the company is working hard to deal with the problem.

Moira Grueneberg, a Democratic Alliance councillor in the area, said they feared job losses if the problem persisted.

“The farming and tourism businesses had done much to decrease the rate of unemployment in this area, but now those businesses are suffering which might result in job losses.”

She said the problem extends from Mooi River through Howick, Lidgetton, and Dargle to Boston.

“Dargle has been without phones for two months; the thieves removed R300 000 worth of phone lines. In Curry’s Post they removed over 3,5 kilometre of lines.”

She called for the army to be deployed to the area, saying the police cannot protect the lines alone.

Lolly Moodley of the SA Police Service in Howick said many cases of phone line theft have been opened in the last two weeks. He said their patrol cars had been instructed to be vigilant against copper thieves.

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