Slow cops let cable thief slip

2008-09-02 00:00

A Woodlands couple watched helplessly as a man took almost two hours to steal electricity cables, and police allegedly ignored their calls to come and arrest him early yesterday morning.

Monica Werner said she and her husband witnessed the cable theft in progress from about 3.50 am until the thief walked away with 10 metres of cable at about 5.30 am.

“After noticing that the man was actually stealing the cable in front of my house, I woke my husband and also called 10 111. The radio controller promised that he was going to dispatch a police van. We watched the man busy working while we were waiting for police,” said Werner.

At 5.30 am, they saw the man drag the cable away into the Mountain Rise cemetery — and there was still no sight of a police van.

“I want to know why are we told to report crime if our calls are not being taken seriously. If the police had come immediately after my first call the cable would still be there,” said Werner.

Werner, who lives at the corner of Otto’s Bluff and Cedar roads, heard her dog barking at about 3 am. When she went to investigate, she saw a man, but could not make out what he was doing.

“At first I thought he was exercising. At about 3.50 am, I noticed that he was still there … Then I saw that he was busy cutting a cable off an electricity pole, which he had just sawed down.”

The incident happened in front of St Luke’s Church, and every time a vehicle drove by or a person walked past, the man hid in the church.

She called the police twice in the space of an hour. “When I called the second time, I told the lady on the other side of the line that I called about an hour earlier. She just accused me of shouting at her. She later promised to send a van,” said Werner.

Werner said the electric poles and cables were installed about two months ago.

Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that the case of cable theft was reported at 4.30 am. He said it was attended to at 5.20 am.

Budhram said police are investigating the incident, as well as Werner’s complaint.

Phil Mashoko, Msunduzi manager for infrastructure and services, said cable theft is on the increase in the city, while many perpetrators are in court, having been arrested with the help of the public. He said people can report incidents to the municipal security section’s 24-hour numbers 033 392 2908 or 033 392 2909.

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