Cable theft is on the rise in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, as the demand for commodities such as copper and brass remains high. This is not only affecting businesses, but copper taps at homes, and cables at traffic lights are also targeted.
This, on top of heavy load shedding schedules.
Metro security are working alongside the SAPS and neighbourhood watch to try curb this crime.
Small businesses are also targeted by the cable thieves. Zaakirah Evans runs a salon from her home in Kariega. Her cables were stolen, leaving her business and her family in the dark for three weeks.
She had to rely on her neighbours to freeze her food and charge her phones.
“My house was affected. My son is studying. He is in matric and we had to rely on led lights candles for him to be able to study and it just showed how much we were reliant on electricity. Washing machine, stove, geyser … all of that. so It was quite inconvenient, a battle and it made me appreciate what we have. My business was also affected. I started making house calls which affected the services I could render.”
The cable thieves are also affecting traffic flow in the metro as they target traffic lights.
Nelson Mandela Bay’s Safety and Security MMC, Lawrence Troon, says they have big plans in the works.
“Robots get repaired today and two days later the same robots get vandalised. The bad thing about it is that to repair one robot is over R1 000 and the thing the people steal from the robot isn’t even worth R500. But we are busy with our smart city tender where we will install CCTV cameras throughout the metro.”
Residents are also stepping up to root out the problem and catch the criminals.
Cavin Bosch, a member of the Sidwell and Algoa Park Neighbourhood watch, says that they are always first on the scene.
“We don’t wear any firearms. We go in there only with ourselves. We put our lives on the line because these guys are criminals. We are taking a stand of no nonsense and we need to act as a community because we cant always rely on SAPS or whatever. We need to take a stand because if we don’t do this our whole community with collapse.”
The police are hitting back.
Major general Vuyisile Ncata says between the July and September, 40 incidents of vandalism were recorded, but also 16 arrests.
“We have made multiple arrests and have done major inspections on various scrap metal dealers to ensure that they are compliant. This issue really has been getting out of hand in the bay. Even though we have handed out multiple fines, we are not taking our foot off the pedal.”
The problem of cable theft and stolen metal has even prompted the government to propose a policy to ban the export of scrap metal for a period of six months to put registration systems in place to to prevent the criminal syndicates from selling their loot. The proposed policy was gazetted for public comment in August.