The town just waiting for its telephone line to go

2014-05-30 00:00

RESIDENTS of Himeville expect their main Telkom line to be stolen any day now — the only heavy phone line yet to be taken in the region.

Robin Stayt, of Underberg Community Watch, said a cable theft crime wave struck both towns last month, suddenly boosting the area’s average of seven crimes weekly to about 20 per week.

In addition to four kilometres of the main “100-pair” Telkom cable, the syndicates have cut Internet and phone service from whole sections of the upmarket rural village, and paralysed an entire farming area by stripping its huge “pivot” irrigation systems.

One dairy farmer, Viv Turner — who has lost R80 000-worth of irrigation wiring, as well as pump house cable last week — said the major blitz began on election night, “clearly because this syndicate realised the police would be busy with polling stations”.

“My neighbours, my cousin — we’ve all had our pivot lines stolen,” he said. “What’s striking is how sophisticated these guys are. We put alarm systems up, which are supposed to send us a text whenever the lines are cut. So these guys actually cut the aerials on the alarm systems! And after I encased the pump house lines in concrete, they just smashed through the concrete.

“It’s really costing the whole farming community — those cables are each about R40 000 to replace, and then of course there’s the down time when we’re not watering our pastures.”

Turner added: “Its not just us — I don’t think anyone in Creighton, Donnybrook, or Bulwer has Telkom service either.”

Brett Deavin, head of Berg Protection Services, said no suspects had yet been arrested, despite “daily” copper raids.

He said the downtown area had also been hit, with some restaurants unable to take bookings and orders.

Confirming the concerns voiced by a local telephone technician, Deavin said: “We’re very worried about the main Telkom line out of Himeville — we fear its just a matter of time, because they’ve stolen almost everything else: the other day, they took 30 spans leading out of Underberg in one haul.

“The police tell us they’ve got nothing to go on, in terms of finding these guys,” he added.

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