City Power has been alarmed by how dangerous cable thieves have become. This follows the murder of two security personnel, who were patrolling cable theft hotspots in Johannesburg this week.
Newtown is one of the cable theft hotspots in Johannesburg. On Thursday night, two armed security officers contracted to City Power were patrolling when they were ambushed by unknown gunmen. The security guards were shot and killed.
City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena explains, “The security officers had just completed a task of escorting a City Power truck transporting tons and tons of the burned copper cables from Inner-city underground tunnels fire to the utility’s Salvage Yard at the head office in Booysens. The officers stopped at Carr Street near the double-decker highway to inspect a kiosk often burgled and used to gain entry into the tunnels. Upon completing the inspection, the security officers returned to their vehicle to write a brief security status report. Without any notice, armed suspects appeared on both the driver and passenger sides and shot both of them. They then pulled the lifeless bodies out of the vehicle and took one firearm of the crew.”
This is not the only attack this week.
On Wednesday, armed criminals held up City Power contracted security at gunpoint at the Cydna substation near Melrose, and stole 12 copper cables from the high voltage yard. Mangena says it’s become a complex syndicate and these criminals are heavily armed and dangerous.
“The recent killings and attacks on our security shows how brazen and dangerous the cable thieves are. This is an organised crime, committed not by an ordinary person, or nyaope boys. It’s getting very dangerous with heavily armed and it is not the first time our security has been attacked and shot at. There are many cases recently and even Eskom security in Klipspruit where five of them were shot and killed because they were trying to steal cables. It’s a serious issue, we need to take up with law enforcement, it’s economic sabotage.”
Mangena says so far this year, they have lost over R19 million as a result of cable theft.
“We are losing a lot of money as City Power and even more millions lost by businesses when cable is stolen. Even smaller businesses and those working from home. This financial year, we have lost about R19 million, the previous year it was R16 million.”
He says they have beefed up security as cable theft is responsible for most of the power outages in the City.