Several towns in the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) area have endured unscheduled and lengthy power cuts, due to the growing trend of theft and vandalism of the electricity infrastructure.
EMLM spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa indicated that the scourge of infrastructure vandalism had been going on for years, and added problems to the already-decaying electricity network.
“The municipality is faced with the daunting challenge of theft of electricity components and vandalism in its power substations. The material mainly targeted by the criminals are batteries and copper cables. This has been going on for years and has, in many instances, led to unscheduled power outages.”
Kowa said earlier this year a Komani man who tried to steal electric components at a local sub-station was electrocuted and lost his arm as a result.
“This growing criminal activity is most prevalent in Komani and does not only work against the municipality’s efforts to deliver services, but also poses danger to the perpetrators. A man lost his arm trying to steal at one of our sub-stations and a criminal case against him was opened at the Komani police station.
“Three weeks ago, two young men were caught by security guards at the EMLM technical services department offices trying to steal roofing material and a case of trespassing was opened against them.”
The Rep Online reported (Fault at Western sub-station, January 29) that former EMLM spokesperson Gcobani Msindwana confirmed the then vandalised Western sub-station transformer had run out of oil due to a leakage. That was as a result of theft and vandalism and left some parts of Komani without electricity.
The Rep has, on numerous occasions, reported on the electricity theft by Nkwanca informal settlements residents, whose cables run openly on the ground and have fatally electrocuted a cow belonging to a local farmer.
Kowa said the municipality needed the public’s co-operation in curbing and reporting power theft and vandalism of its infrastructure as power failures would affect innocent people. “We also plead with community members to report any act of vandalism and theft as it only derails business, health and social activities.”