Pretoria – City of Joburg’s power utility, City Power said about 10 tons of copper and aluminium cables had been seized by authorities during an operation conducted to cut off illegal connections in Kya Sands Informal Settlement, near Randburg.
The area is one of the hotspots of illegal connections, which have seen the business and residential customers struggling with daily outages, according to City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena.
“During the operation supported by the Joburg Metro Police Department, South African Police Service, and immigration officials, about 10 tons of copper and aluminium cables worth an estimated R10 million were removed,” said Mangena.
“Most of the cables were found to have been stolen from the street lights in the surrounding areas, including Bloubosrand, Malibongwe Drive, and Witkoppen Road.”
Mangena said customers in the area had been complaining “for a long time about lost jobs and business investments due to constant outages caused by the illegal connections from Kya Sands Informal Settlements”.
“City Power has lost millions of rands replacing transformers and mini substations that blew up due to overloading caused by the illegal connections. City Power will intensify the removal of illegal connections across the City of Johannesburg as part of the winter strategy to reduce pressure off the electricity system and ensure reliable supply to the customers,” he said.
In April, City Power said it was worried about the theft of network fuses across the city that contributed to most outages in areas, including Roodepoort.
He said the “worrying criminal phenomenon comes closer to cable theft”, which had been on the increase over the past years.
“The theft of fuses not only leads to constant outages that inconvenience residents, but it is also costing City Power millions or rand. We appeal to residents to be vigilant and assist us by reporting any suspicious activity around the electricity infrastructure,” said Mangena at the time.
“It is still not clear what the stolen fuses are used for, but we are engaging the police and the Joburg Metro Police Department to assist us to curb this theft by arresting the perpetrators and ensuring that the punishment fits the crime. A crime that we view as economic sabotage against the state.”
He added that City Power is also doing everything in its power to increase security patrols in the hotspots, and working with community policing forums and neighbourhood watch security to ensure that the runaway crime is curbed.