Cable theft reaches crisis levels in Birch Acres

by Cllr. Ilaria Di Siena — DA PR Councillor in Ekurhuleni

Date: 10 September 2021

Release: Immediate

Type: Media Statement

Birch Acres residents in Kempton Park have been plagued by continuous power outages for years now, and the standard excuse from the City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) is always “cable theft”.

The residents of Birch Acres experience incessant power outages because of the perennial cable theft and the vandalism of property, with the ANC Coalition-led* City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) doing very little to secure the energy infrastructure in the area.

Cable theft in the notorious crime hotspots of Mooifontein Cemetery and the neighbouring Vusimuzi Informal Settlement has reached crisis levels. This, where the substation that feeds the Birch Acres extensions is situated. The cables run through the cemetery to the substation in Vusimuzi, both vulnerable to theft and vandalism, resulting in continuous blackouts in the area.

Residents have grown frustrated with the situation, and the CoE has done very little to secure the electricity infrastructure against tampering. The furious and frustrated community of Birch Acres is demanding that a new substation within Birch Acres should be built, as this will alleviate the infrastructural sabotage.

Moreover, cable theft does not only cost the city millions in lost revenue but also inconveniences residents and businesses during a time when the country is experiencing Covid19 restrictions. These continuous power outages have caused great distress to those working remotely.

Further compounding the problem is that Mooifontein Cemetery is constantly subjected to incidents of vandalism and has become a prime spot for crime and illegal activities. Unsecured entrances to the cemetery at both ends have enabled commuters to drive through the cemetery as a shortcut between Thembisa and Norkem Park and criminals have unfettered access to steal and destroy.

These issues at the Mooifontein Cemetery have been reported and escalated to the Department of Environmental Resource Management on numerous occasions. When the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Ekurhuleni addressed its concerns regarding the ever-increasing crime, vandalism, and the tearing down of critical infrastructure at the cemetery, the HOD of Parks and Cemeteries responded as follows: “due to the culture of vandalism in Tembisa (Vusimusi informal settlement), no upgrade will make any impact at Mooifontein cemetery until the entire community takes ownership of the facility.

As the DA, we, therefore, call on the ANC-coalition-run CoE to implement an interim plan that will prevent cable theft, illegal connections, and secure electricity supply to residents, while working on a permanent plan to secure electricity supply.

Cable theft is a crime against the state and the CoE should be ensuring that its law-enforcement agencies implement measures to end this thieving and pilfering.

The DA condemns cable theft which continues to strip the CoE of its critical infrastructure and urges members of the community to report any illegal activities to the Municipal Contact Call Centre on 086 054 3000.

#Time4Change

*ANC Coalition Partners: African Independent Congress (AIC), Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), Patriotic Alliance (PA) and Independent Ratepayers Association of South Africa (IRASA)

Cllr. Ilaria Di Siena

DA PR Councillor in Ekurhuleni

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