On Monday alone, more than 100 metres of a thick, heavy conveyor cable, had been dug out and carried away by what must have been a large team of cable thieves, DA councillor and Nasaret resident Morgan Bruiners believes.
He says that apart from increasing burst pipes, resulting in almost daily water interruptions, cable thieves are also now plunging the community into darkness with cable theft.
“Cable theft will deplete the municipal coffers, and what stuns me beyond words is the fact that law enforcement cannot catch either the cable thieves or the scrap metal dealers who create this market,” Cllr Bruiners says.
Cable thefts are costing the municipality more than R1 million every month, money which has not been budgeted for.
The problem has resulted in the municipality draining the budget meant for street light replacement, which plays nicely into the hands of cable thieves who can excavate and remove cables under the cover of darkness.
Last Friday, two cable thieves were caught by Titon Security with the assistance of the Sector 3 Emergency Dispatch Group, hiding high in a tree.
Titon reaction officer Martin Meintjies stumbled upon the two men in a tree close to Laerskool CR Swart in Zuid Street, where several cables had already been cut.
During the search, he heard a branch crack, and when he shone his flashlight into the tree, saw the men hiding between the branches with two bolt cutters hanging next to them.
The police were called and the suspects were arrested. The police were, however, responsible for the men’s consequent freedom after a weekend in the holding cells, as control prosecutors declined to place the matter on the court roll on Monday, citing “questionable statements and a lack of evidence”.
“There’s absolutely no desire among the police or municipal law enforcement to actively pursue essential infrastructure vandals,” said Cllr Bruiners, echoing local residents’ sentiments.
Cllr Bruiners says the same cable was stolen last year, after which the municipality used TLBs to dig deeper trenches in which to secure the cables.
“This is no deterrent, they dig with spades, use chains to hook the cables onto vehicles, pull them from the ground and disappear,” Cllr Bruiners said.
He says the cable has not been replaced yet, adding, “The municipality simply filled the trenches back up.”
“I don’t think the municipality has cables to replace the stolen ones. We will be seeing more and more essential stock shortages as the relentless siege on infrastructure continues,” he warned.
“The SAPS, municipal law enforcement and our local prosecuting authority need to unite and adopt a zero tolerance attitude towards this sabotage,” Cllr Bruiners demanded.