Residents irate over electricity cable theft

2016-02-04 06:00
A cable thief cutting an electricity cable in Verulam Tea Estate.  Photo: supplied

A cable thief cutting an electricity cable in Verulam Tea Estate. Photo: supplied

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CONSTANT power outages, blown appliances and threats have angered residents of Verulam Tea Estate who are left without power for almost four days a week due to illegal electricity connections.

The thefts are now out of control as almost every resident has their own petrol generator to keep the lights on.

According to Judy Govender the constant cuts have left the community frustrated as they have exhausted all avenues to seek assistance from the municipality and the thieves are not afraid of being seen or questioned.

Another problem is that some neighbours have also got illegal connections installed by the thieves who are also suspected of breaking into the houses.

“My husband asked a guy, who was on the pole, what he was doing and he told my husband there’s nothing we can do about what he was doing,” said Govender.

“He told my husband if ‘you open your mouth you will get shot with the gun that went missing from your house’.”

Govender said it has become very difficult because the constant theft of cables has also left them without landlines, the electric fences installed for safety because of crime hardly work and the area is left in darkness for nights on end.

“It takes more than a day for the lights to be turned back on after it’s cut, and within a day or two the cables are stolen again,” said Govender.

“This creates a huge safety problem for us and we have to worry about our family if we are not at home.”

Another issue is the ongoing loss of food in fridges and freezers and electrical appliances blowing up due to power surges.

Resident Billy Gounden said residents are frustrated with the calls they have to make every day to report cable theft and cuts to electricity.

“We spend hours every week on the phone and we have to keep calling to make sure we have electricity after a few days,” said Gounden.

He said despite the lines being put higher, and concrete poles being used in some places to prevent the poles from being cut down, it hasn’t stopped the thieves who climb to the top to remove the cables.

“There are thousands of metres of cables being stolen every week. One line alone is around 350m from one house to another and this is costing thousands of rands,” said Gounden.

Both residents said they have phoned and complained to the municipality numerous times about the problem, but are yet to get any feedback or solution.

eThekwini head of communications, Tozi­ Mthethwa said they have alerted the Verulam SAPS and patrols will be conducted in the Tea Estate area to assist in apprehending the suspects.

“Residents should call their SAPS station to report a theft in progress,” said Mthethwa.

Mthethwa urged residents to contact the following numbers in case of electricity thefts or suspicion of theft - electricity call centre 080 13 13 111, SMS 083 700 0819 or email custocare@elec.durban.gov.za call the cable theft hotline on 031 311 9611, SAPS on 10111 or the Metro Police emergency line on 031 361 0000.

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