Spooks probe ‘carefully orchestrated’ Tshwane power cuts

2014-07-02 16:04

The State Security Agency has been roped in to investigate the upsurge of power outages in the City of Tshwane as a result of cable theft, which has cost businesses huge amounts of money.

Thousands of Tshwane residents will also have to wait until Friday for power supply to be restored to their homes and businesses due to cable theft and vandalism at substations run by the city, mayor Sputla Ramokgopa said at a briefing today.

Ramokgopa said there was a strong suspicion that syndicates were working with city employees to “sabotage” power supply.

Ramokgopa apologised profusely to Tshwane residents who have been in the dark since Sunday.

The areas in Centurion have been worst affected. They include The Reeds, The Reeds South, Heuweloord, Hennopspark Industrial Area, Amberfield, Wierda Park and Brakfontein.

The spike in cable theft has caused the City of Tshwane to spend R20 million in the past four months on replacing stolen cables, while it spent just more than R30 million between July last year and June this year.

More than 450 cases of cable theft have been reported since April, something Ramokgopa said was a huge concern since water treatment plants, which also need power to run, were also affected. In one case, it resulted in water contamination last year.

The recent damage at the Brakfontein and Kentron substations, where thieves gained entry through the window, vandalised the substation and stole cables, will cost about R8 million to restore, said Ramokgopa.

“The impact of these acts on the economy of the city and the disruption of social services to our communities is an opportunity to apologise to those affected and call for a closer partnership with the business communities, law enforcement agencies and community in dealing with this scourge,” said Ramokgopa.

New measures have been taken, including deploying security guards at each substation, to prevent a recurrence of cable theft and protect the power network, said Ramokgopa.

These included closed-circuit surveillance, stricter access control and paying rewards to whistle-blowers who supply information that lead to the successful prosecution of cable thieves.

Other measures included privately prosecuting offenders, getting the State Security Agency to investigate, using chips to trace stolen material and embarking on a campaign asking businesses not to hire or trade with those involved in cable theft.

Ramokgopa said the mayoral committee would have to decide whether to go ahead with offering cash rewards to whistle-blowers as this was a decision that could only be taken by that body.

“From what we’ve seen, you can clearly see that the cable theft is carefully orchestrated by syndicates to sabotage power supply,” said Ramokgopa.

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