WATCH | Electricity cable thieves in tug of war with metro cops

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  • A mob from an informal settlement that illegally gets its electricity from a stolen electrical transformer, descended on two Buffalo City Metro cops to try to recover electric cables after a raid.  
  • The tussle was between two outnumbered enforcement officers and a group of men, over the electric cable.
  • It was captured on camera in East London.

A raid on illegal electricity connections took a dramatic turn when a mob, from an informal settlement that illegally gets its electricity from a stolen transformer, descended on two Buffalo City Metro cops to recover disconnected cables.

A tussle between the two outnumbered Buffalo City officers and a group of about nine men, over the electric cable, was captured on camera in East London at the weekend.

In the clip, which has gone viral, men can be seen locked in a tug of war with the officers, with one of the men maintaining his grip on the cables even though an officer fired a warning shot that had sent his friends diving for cover.

The clash came after the group of men removed cables from a municipal vehicle and tried to flee with the cables, said Buffalo City Metro spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya.

Ngwenya said the BCM law enforcement officers tussled with community members after they stopped the group and tried to recover the cables.

READ | Buffalo City Metro offers R20K reward for anyone who has info on speed camera thief

The officers had been dispatched to back up BCM revenue collection officials during a raid for illegal electricity connection, said Ngwenya.

Ngwenya said this took place in an informal settlement near the entrance to Buffalo Pass where the community has an illegal 11kv supply, which is fed from a stolen transformer. 

"This is extremely dangerous and was our reasoning for removing this illegal network. This [illegal network] had left surrounding areas of Highway Gardens and local businesses in the dark. We want to commend the bravery of our law enforcement officers who refused to succumb to the mob despite being outnumbered.

"The officers also conducted themselves within the law by using minimum force in the form of pepper spray and only resorted to drawing a firearm when the situation escalated," said Ngwenya.

He said the event demonstrates the severity of the problem the municipality is faced with in the escalating war against theft, vandalism, and illegal connections.

READ HERE | 4 cops accused of shooting copper 'thieves', then selling cables at scrapyard

"We are conducting numerous raids weekly and are removing thousands of illegal connections. Statistics presented at the Covid Command Centre on 15 March reveal that 950 illegal electricity lines were removed in that week. We are in the process of opening up a criminal case against the suspects as stolen infrastructure material is being used by this community."

Buffalo City Metro municipality was losing million of rands annually due to illegal connections and the cost of repairs also runs into millions, Ngwenya added.

Ngwenya added that: "We are calling on the members of the community to assist in identifying the culprits in the video so that they can be arrested. This has severe implications on residents and businesses who are left counting the costs of these unlawful acts." 

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