POLOKWANE – This comes after several reported cases of theft and vandalism of electrical infrastructure which plagued service delivery in the past month.
Review spoke to a municipal employee, who is not involved in communications, but deals with the repairing of electrical boxes that has been victimised by angry residents.
The man, who requested anonymity, told Review that they in fact have calls up to five times and more, a week, regarding vandalism or theft which ultimately leads to damage to electrical boxes and the replacement of cables and components stolen.
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“The problem is that it not only effects the municipality, but residents too and in some cases this is a big problem for us. In some instances, people refuse to understand that we as municipal workers, cannot be held responsible and we have had threats and assaulted by residents when they are without electricity because of theft or damage from vandalism,” he man told Review.
The components that are stolen are meant for the regulation of electrical voltage that is supplied to households and industrial areas. When these components are stolen, the danger is that more than the required amount of voltage is sent to households and may lead to damage of electrical appliances and possible fire. Secondly, a bigger portion remains without electricity for a longer period as the materials must be sought, installed and be reconfigured.
Another source close to the municipality said that vehicles had been bought by the municipality to be used in patrolling things such as boreholes and electrical substations to prevent theft and vandalism, but these vehicles are being misused for private transpor, leaving areas vulnerable and the municipality losing money.
If a substation is badly damaged, it can cost the Municipality up to R750 000, which wasn’t budgeted for.
The latest trend is the theft of mini-substation components in the city and Seshego. So far, in a space of two to three weeks, about eight mini-sub stations were vandalized and some of the components stolen, resulting in both businesses and residential areas without electricity for longer periods.
According to the municipal employee, some of the theft that occurs shows that thieves have inside knowledge to remove some of the components and wires without electrocution.
The Polokwane Municipality have now warned that those who are guilty of vandalism and theft are breaking the law and could face fines over R1 000 and or jail time.