City calls on residents to shed light on ‘worst’ street light theft

The City is perplexed by the vandalism of light poles which are more than 11 meters high.

Street light theft in Strandfontein Road has been the most severe that the City has experienced in recent months.

“These criminal acts appear to be well organised, with more than 100 individual street lights damaged along this stretch in a short period. The poles are more than 11 meters high,” Phindile Maxiti, the City’s mayoral committee member for energy and climate change said.

The estimated damage to electrical infrastructure for this section is approximately R600 000, he added.

The City is calling on residents to blow the whistle on offenders by sending anonymous tip-offs and has offered a reward for any information that leads to an arrest.

“We appeal to residents to come forward and help the City bring an end to this extreme theft and damage. The scourge of vandalism impacts our residents and we cannot allow this to continue. We cannot afford to replace this infrastructure constantly and it is paid for by the customers through the tariffs. Just this incident will cost the City R600 000 to repair. We have also spent considerable resources in trying to keep the lights on along Jakes Gerwel Drive, which is also a hotspot for illegal connections and vandalism and attacks against our staff and contractors,” he said.

The City’s Area South – which includes Philippi, Mitchells Plain, Muizenberg, and Wynberg – has been most severely affected by the theft.

“The City’s Electricity Generation and Distribution Department has spent R4.6 million between July 2020 and December 2020 to replace and repair damaged and stolen infrastructure in Area South,” Mr Maxiti said.

City staff and contractors have also come under attack in recent months, Mr Maxiti said but added that patrols in hotspot areas will continue, “as our resources allow”.

He added: “Electricity theft is often driven by well-oiled criminal syndicates, which operate across communities.

“The City offers a reward of R5 000 to anyone who provides information that leads to arrest, confiscation of stolen or illegal goods or the handing-in of illegal or stolen goods. This reward is also applicable to information leading to the arrest of people vandalising, damaging or stealing electricity infrastructure or installing illegal connections. Tampering, theft and vandalism of essential electricity infrastructure, is seen as a priority crime, and as per Section 2 of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act (Act 18 0f 2015), imprisonment not exceeding 30 years and fines not exceeding R100 million is possible, when found guilty.”

Residents who want to report theft, vandalism or illegal connections can call 112 from a cell phone (toll free) and 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 for emergencies.