Cable Theft and Vandalism Threatens South Africa's Economic Recovery
A slower economic recovery for the country is inevitable if cable and infrastructure theft is not reduced.
Cable theft and infrastructure vandalism across the country cost Telkom, Eskom, PRASA and Transnet approximately R7billion a year in direct losses. However, the knock-on effect to the economy is far greater, estimated at approximately R187billion per annum.
Telkom Group CEO, Sipho Maseko, says there is a coordinated effort amongst law enforcement agencies and the four entities to address the growing problem.
The CEOs of the four companies joined forces to combat infrastructure and cable theft in 2020 and are developing a national cable theft prevention strategy to assist Government.
“We have established a joint working group to have this problem dealt with as a priority. This means working closely with law enforcement agencies and other key role-players, in developing new security measures and tightening regulations to make it difficult to trade in stolen cables and critical infrastructure in general,” says Maseko.
The CEOs of PRASA, Eskom and Transnet affirm that the South African economy is driven by inter-sectoral business dealings and interdependencies, meaning that the loss of production in one organisation may affect many others. “We provide essential services to keep the economy and business moving forward, and these crimes undermine the national effort to improve services, quality of life and create jobs” says the joint working group’s coordinating committee.
The joint working group welcomes the increased efforts of the police and the Hawks to crack down on copper theft syndicates, including the recent arrest of two KwaZulu-Natal police officers who were allegedly part of a cable theft gang. The arrests prove that no one is above the law.
In a joint statement the working group says “We will continue to support the police and the courts to enforce the law by arresting and prosecuting those responsible. Each act of theft or vandalism equally threatens the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The CEOs of Telkom, Eskom, PRASA and Transnet agree that the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed to the country the criticality and need for essential services. Network connectivity for both fixed and mobile services is crucial for businesses to be able to continue their operations remotely and to support home schooling.
Telecommunications, electricity and rail infrastructure ensures that vital services are delivered, and day-to-day tasks are completed. Vandalism and theft exacerbate the problems that face the already ailing South African economy on a macro-level, as well as a large proportion of the population that needs to participate in the digital economy, says Telkom.
South Africans are urged to be aware, vigilant and report all activities of theft and vandalism of critical infrastructure to our telecommunications, rail and power networks.
Anyone suspecting a crime is being committed can call one of the following numbers:
Eskom Crime Line 0800 11 27 22
Telkom Crime Line 0800 124 000
Transnet Crime Line 0800 003 056
Crime-Stop Hotline - 08 600 10111
Telkom SA SOC Ltd is a leading information and communications technology services provider in South Africa. Our mission is to seamlessly connect people to a better life. We carry this through in all our brands, whether at the consumer, business or wholesale level.
Telkom consists of the following business units: BCX, an end-to-end digital solutions provider; connectivity and wholesale division Openserve; Telkom Consumer; Telkom Small & Medium Business and property company Gyro.