Almost daily in Wynberg East, thieves exploit load shedding to steal electrical cables and leave neighbourhoods without electricity for hours at a time, says ward councillor Carmen Siebritz.
“Cable theft in the Wynberg East area has been quite low until such time that Eskom started implementing the higher stages of load shedding again. However, recent incidents indicate that it has escalated outside of these times now too. Initially it was digging up of cables, it has now very quickly spiralled to overhead cables,” she said.
More recently cables had been dug up along Rosmead Avenue while a traffic light had been installed, she said.
“The streets most affected by the theft are, Byrnes Avenue, Carabinier Road, Castletown Road and Rosmead Avenue.
“Residents are adversely affected because there would be times when not only one street but pockets of residents would be without electricity for hours at any given time. This, of course, is as inconvenient as load shedding itself.”
Wynberg East Neighbourhood Watch chairman Charl Wessels said the thieves were profiting at the expense of residents who were left without power for up to ten hours in some cases.
The neighbourhood watch is appealing to residents to work in shifts to patrol the area.
“The thing is they need to be a little more visible during the evenings especially when we have load shedding. There are a few residents that have come out. They actually drive up and down with their car, and some stand on their front entrances or stoeps, but it is not enough.
“The problem is, unfortunately, people work, and when you get load shedding at 2 until 4 o’clock in the morning, there is nobody available to look out there. While the neighbourhood watch have been going out there at night, they obviously can’t do it every morning.”
He said Ms Siebritz had arranged with City Law Enforcement to have two officers on standby, but their attention was also diverted by crime in the vicinity of the Wynberg train station subways.
“The subways have been reopened for use recently after they were locked for quite some time. This is going to cause problems again with theft and drugging there,” Mr Wessels said.
He suspects the cable thieves use the Bonnytoun squatter camp behind Wynberg fire station and another camp near the Yusufeyyah Mosque as hideouts.
“It is mainly near the Wynberg Terminal, Byrnes Avenue, Harpford Avenue and Sandhurst Road, the top section of Wynberg, that has been the worst off so far because there they can do their illegal activities and run across the railway line to they can get back into the Main Road and disappear there or they go through the bottom section towards an alley that leads to Bonnytoun.”
Wynberg police spokesperson Captain Ntomboxolo Lindipasi said cable theft in the precinct had decreased this year compared to the previous year, and hot spots included railway lines between Wynberg and Kenilworth stations.
To report damage to municipal electrical infrastructure, SMS 31220, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 1100 77.
The City welcomes anonymous tip-offs and offers a reward of R5 000 if tip-offs lead to arrests.