– Lia Snijman.
Cable theft has been an on-going issue for people in the Banhoek and Helshoogte area of Stellenbosch.
A local resident has explained that their power goes off due to cable theft about once a month and more frequently recently. “We are normally left without power for a day or two at a time. When it is an outage where no cable was stolen, then Eskom gets it going within a few hours.”
He said that law enforcement officers of the Stellenbosch municipality has been involved twice already but that nobody has been apprehended. Both times were when an electricity pole was cut down for cable theft. The last time was on 25 May and he said that the law enforcement was “very good” then.
The resident said that they have focused on an individual in the area who cuts wood in the vicinity, but he claimed there is a group of “four youngsters” who are stealing the cables but they have never been visited or spoken to. He said they have given the details of the alleged cable thieves to the police, but had no response. He had already given them the details late in January this year.
One of the youngsters was apparently shocked while he was stealing some of the cables and died. “This time four police members came to see me, but they couldn’t do anything because apparently Eskom had not made a case. One of the guys shocked again and the skin on his leg and around his pelvic region was badly injured. I told SAPS that this was the case and that now would be the perfect time to visit him and ask him what had happened to him. A week later nobody had been to see him, and to my knowledge that is still the case,” he said.
The local resident said that there have also been incidents of cable theft on 22 February, where the Cloetesville SAPS went to the scene, and on 9 February. One of their power outages, on 27 April, lasted two days but that was because of a tree that was cut down by trespassers that subsequently broke the line.
Of the regular power outages, he said: “It’s a real problem, because at the moment the kids write university exams online, the surges destroy our electronics, one can’t have Zoom meetings or just make book-keeping entries on the computers and you don’t have internet because the towers are affected.”
“I have to use a generator, which is heavy on petrol and need to have two different forms of internet accounts just to try and make sure that we can continue working and studying.”
Law Enforcement could not be reached via the Municipality to confirm any of the cases of theft or what was being done to try and combat it.