Residents of Ashton and Zolani was severely affected by the last incident of copper cable theft. From the evening of 26 April 2022, the thieves caused major faults on the electrical supply line, leaving residents without electricity for days.
The Municipality has many overhead lines, underground cables and links between the underground and overhead electrical networks. During this last attempt, the Goree overhead line was targeted with damages being far more extensive than anticipated.
Thieves usually target overhead lines to make a short circuit that will cause the protection on the line to trip. The short circuit on the line caused faults on the cable network and severely damaged two cables. A transformer in Zolani was also damaged by cable theft and vandalism.
The power outage caused various other aspects of service delivery to be affected.
- The operations of the Ashton Municipal offices, including the 24/7 Customer Call Centre was affected. While generators were available, the cost of running the generators for extended periods does add up.
- As a result of an electrical surge, IT hardware was damaged and backup batteries ran out due to the abnormal power outage. The problem affected the municipalities internet and inter-branch connections.
- Without power supply, the pump station at the Ashton reservoir was unable to operate, affecting the reservoir levels and ultimately affected the water supply to some areas in Ashton. A water tanker was sent out to roam the effected areas to let residents fill their containers. Alternative measures were put in place to ensure water supply could be provided. On 30 April 2022 the water supply was normalised again.
- Throughout this, the electricians were busy working around the clock. Some of the challenges the team experienced was to determine exactly where a line is faulty, and this required time. Visual inspections and tests need to be performed before repairs can be done. Sadly, one of our employees was injured during his attempts to restore the power. He was hospitalized and is still in recovery. The services of electrical contractors were procured for additional assistance in restoring the services as soon as possible.
The major challenges experienced
When repairing a fault on a vandalized cable, it is more than likely that the cable might’ve been damaged somewhere else which usually leads to longer times required to repair the fault. The fault finding and repairs process have to be repeated for the same section of network.
Another major challenge is that while the teams are repairing one fault, cable thieves continue to target other areas which set the restoration of power back even further.
A case has been opened with the South African Police Services and an arrest of two suspects have been made.
Cable theft is a regular occurrence in the Langeberg Municipality and severely affects business operations and hamper the provision of essential services to industry and our communities.
Eskom urges all scrap metal dealers, foundries and smelters to refrain from buying stolen cables.
Usually, when work is being done on electrical infrastructure, a Municipal vehicle (bakkie with a ladder) is in close proximity. If that is not the case, it is necessary to report suspicious activities to any of the following numbers:
- Eskom Crime Line: 0800 11 27 22
- South African Police Service (SAPS): 1011 or 10177
- Crime Stop Hotline: 085 00 10111
- Langeberg Call Centre: 0860 88 11 11
Please report any damage to electrical infrastructure (open cables / wires) immediately and stay clear from it. Always treat any open / exposed electrical cables / wires as live.
Be extra watchful during load shedding, thieves can then target any electrical infrastructure; house connection cables are cut and stolen leaving residents without power.
We urge our residents to please report any suspicious activity as we rely on tip offs from the public to help curb cable theft.
We all have the responsibility to report any acts of cable theft or vandalism.