Vandalism’s big bill

The City is experiencing severe challenges with the ongoing vandalism and damage to sub-stations in Mitchells Plain.

The City of Cape Town has spent more than R4 million on replacing and repairing stolen and vandalised infrastructure equipment in Mitchell’s Plain between July last year and May.

The bill for the entire city was at R13.4 million, while more than 60 percent was spent in the southern region, including Mitchell’s Plain, Philippi, Muizenberg and Wynberg.

Phindile Maxiti, mayoral committee member for energy and climate change, said the municipality was experiencing severe challenges with the ongoing vandalism and damage to sub-stations in Mitchell’s Plain.

He urged residents to report all vandalism and theft of City infrastructure.

Tafelsig residents say gangsters have been tampering with local electricity sub-stations which leave the streets in darkness and households with random power cuts.

“When the lights go off then we either hear shots being fired, houses are being broken into or cars are tampered with,” said Tafelsig resident Shenaaz Scott.

She said her son’s car was tampered with in the early hours on Wednesday July 29.

“His alarm went off and we immediately reacted. Fortunately they never got into the car and that happened when the street light was out,” she said.

Ms Scott said street lights would be out for months, they would report it and the day it would be fixed it would work only to be tampered with again.

She said in addition to load shedding households faced intermittent breaks in electricity, whenever sub-stations were vandalised.

Another Tafelsig resident, who did not want to be named, said the gangsters wait for it to be dark before they start shooting.

“They begin on the corner and they run across the field, which innocent people use to either get to or from work,” she said.

During last month’s Wolfgat Sub-council meeting Tafelsig councillor Washiela Harris pleaded with the City’s electricity officials to “do something” to curb the tampering with municipal infrastructure.

She said the community was being held hostage by gangsters who were tampering with local sub-stations and depriving residents from electricity.

Ms Harris logs weekly service requests, reporting on electricity cuts in Ward 82.

She said poor lighting in parks and open spaces; and additional lighting have been flagged with the City but more could not be done until the damage to existing infrastructure was curbed.

Mr Maxiti said vandalism did not only affect the community by making it unattractive and unsafe, it was also expensive to repair.

“Vandalism not only impacts negatively on residents’ lives but also on the public purse. Money that can be spent on other projects to improve the lives of residents has to be redirected to fix what is being destroyed,” he said.

The City has an informant reward policy that pays up to R5 000 to anyone who provides information that results in the successful operational result of a fine being issued or an arrest.

He said the process to initiate the reward would be done by the investigating officer in charge of the case.

He said the City was looking into ways to further protect its infrastructure.

“We cannot allow the ongoing vandalism to continue. We do, however, need the help of the community by taking ownership of the infrastructure that services their area and by safeguarding it where they can,” he said.

Mr Maxiti said vandalism or theft of sub-station equipment was regarded as an essential infrastructure-related criminal offence. “It is thus a very serious crime,” he said.

“Please contact the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) as the lead authority in criminal matters about penalties for those found guilty of tampering and theft,” he said.

BLOB Report vandalism of the City’s infrastructure to the City law enforcement call centre on 086 010 3089 or the relevant SAPS office for investigation.

The City’s call centre number is 0860 103 089. Report metal theft or tip-offs to the Metal Theft Unit control room by calling 0800 222 771.