Mob beats ‘cable thieves’

2008-01-24 00:00

Three men suspected of stealing electrical cables in the France area (near Plessislaer) were severely beaten by a mob earlier this week, with one of the suspects having a snake tied around his neck in an apparent reference to Eskom’s anti-cable theft campaign.

Escalating cable theft in France has rocketed due to persistent power failures currently rocking the country. Power failures have reportedly sparked mass violence in France.

The drama started with a man allegedly stealing electricity cables in the Mpumelelo section in France.

The man apparently implicated two other accomplices, also from the area. When his persecutors took him to point out his alleged accomplices, more residents joined the angry mob.

An eyewitness said that the mob included women with babies on their backs.

"A dead snake was reportedly tied around one alleged cable thief’s neck, in an apparent reference to the Eskom ‘izinyoka’ advertising campaign, which depicts cable thieves as snakes," the eyewitness said.

The eyewitness said that people are sick and tired of the electricity problem there.

"Every time the lights are gone, our food is getting rotten and we have to buy more paraffin and it is expensive," said the eyewitness.

Other sources indicated that the ongoing load shedding by Eskom is giving criminals a golden opportunity to steal electrical cabling, as they know that when the power is turned off they have time to cut cables with less risk of electrocution or discovery.

Inspector Joey Jeevan said police have arrested three men in connection with cable theft in France recently.

She said the severely beaten men were handed over to them by residents, after they were caught stealing cables in Mpumelelo section.

"However, no case of public violence has been opened, as the mob left by the time police arrived."

All three men were treated in hospital. Two were discharged into police custody, while the third is still receiving treatment.

In other electricity-related news, security experts have warned that Eskom’s load shedding is enabling thieves to have a field day in businesses.

GriffithsReid Security Consultants said in a statement yesterday: "The load shedding of Eskom and local municipalities is enabling all kinds of light-fingered thieves to steal from businesses already suffering enormously from all the power outages".

GriffithsReid said that business and store employees steal the most by far — a whopping 48% of sales. Some estimate losses to be closer to 75% of sales.

mthobisi@witness.co.za

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