FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

28 MAY 2015

Brazen Criminals Vandalise Street Poles On Busy Durban Freeway

EThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo was shocked to discover that nearly six months after the Municipality replaced 20 vandalised electricity poles at a cost of about R140 000 along a busy Durban freeway, the same poles had again been sabotaged.

Addressing members of the media at City Hall today, Nxumalo said cable theft is a serious problem in the Municipality and having to constantly replace damaged infrastructure is costing the City millions.

Nxumalo saw the vandalised concrete street poles along Solomon Mahlangu (Edwin Swales) Drive, earlier this week.

“This is clearly being done by an organised crime group. The previous street light poles that had been vandalised were made of steel. Our Electricity Unit then replaced the steel poles with concrete poles and those were again cut. We have a big challenge all the street poles are now lying down. Security must be beefed up in all strategic areas,” said Nxumalo.

Nxumalo added that the poles had been moved to the centre island to make them more difficult to access, but this clearly did not deter criminals.

When Nxumalo first visited the area in November last year, the tall street lights had been cut at the base of the poles on either side of a 1kilometer stretch of the road and the copper wiring had been removed before the criminals moved on to the next pole.

Once the poles were felled, they were also able to reach the lights-and steal some of them too.

With each new pole and installation costing R7 000, the Municipality had to pay R140 000 to replace the poles.

The existing poles could not be repaired as the City could not take the chance of a repaired pole falling onto traffic.

Until new poles are installed, the lives of motorists are on the line as the lack of night-time lighting could lead to accidents.

In a bid to counter cable theft, the City has changed from using wooden street poles to steel poles, running the copper cabling inside the new, taller steel poles.

There are CCTV cameras on Solomon Mahlangu Drive, but they are facing away from the section the thieves struck. Now, Nxumalo has asked that extra cameras be installed to give an all-round picture.

Nxumalo said that someone must have seen something the night the thieves struck and urged anyone with information to contact the police.

“Acts of vandalism, like electricity and cable theft, cannot be addressed by the Municipality and the police alone. They call for vigilance from everyone and people must not look away when they know that their relatives, neighbours and friends are involved in such illicit activities,” said Nxumalo.

Cable theft and damage to infrastructure costs the City a conservative R40 million a year, with the total bill including indirect costs being a whopping R230m.

To track down the illegal connections, Municipal teams carry out sweeps, with heavy security, and do spot checks to remove illegal connections.

Any suspicion of cable theft should be reported to the following numbers:

Electricity call centre 080 13 13 111; sms: 083 700 0819 or email custocare@elec.durban.gov.za

The cable theft hotline is 031 311 9611 and the SAPS number is 10111.

ENDS

Issued by eThekwini Municipality’s Communications Head, Tozi Mthethwa.

For more information contact Gugu Mbonambi on 0313114855 or email:gugu.mbonambi@durban.gov.za or Princess Nkabane on 031 311 4818 or princess.nkabane@durban.gov.za​